Compilation albums are a lot like a mixtape. The best ones are built of different artists and vibes, but when set together in one singular time frame form a truly inspiring listening experience. Compilation albums can be as intimate and involved as that homemade mixtape you made back in high school for a friend. You want that friend to keep listening to that mixtape, but you also want to expose them to an artist or two they may not have ever heard before. You want to be their guide into a new musical landscape. The best compilations work that way. They invite you into a world you may not be familiar with, but once you’ve finished that first spin you’re ready to spin it again.
Burning Witches Records have put together one of the coolest mixtapes you’ll hear all year. Communion is their late night, homemade music collection that they’re handing to us in the hallway between classes. It’s a collection of some of the most exciting artists working in the electronic/heavy synth scene now. It works both as some lost soundtrack and as this sampler platter of the best and brightest blowing minds with synthesizers.
If you celebrated Record Store Day in the UK, you may have had a chance to snag Communion. And if you did you are one lucky guy or gal. If you didn’t, don’t spend your rent money for a copy on Ebay. Burning Witches will be selling some copies on their website at some point, so just sit tight and keep up with those guys on Facebook and at their website.
Now, about the music.
The roster on Communion is filled from start to finish with incredible talent. I mean, when you open an album with Deadly Avenger you know things are getting real. The steely and hard-driving “Nightcrawler” works perfectly as the opening salvo to what turns out to be an epic set of tunes. Damon Baxter never disappoints, and on this track he shows why Deadly Avenger is such a sought after musical project. Alone In The Woods’ “I Never Came Up For Air” works on both an eerie vibe and a very dance-y 80s tilt that sounds like both early Depeche Mode and soundtrack work. I’ve been pretty obsessed with Graham Reznick’s Glass Angles album recently, so seeing that he was on this set I was pretty excited. “Faking Point” takes the late night vibe of that album and gives it a more sinister groove. His mastery of sound design comes into play here as you feel all the blips and beeps are swirling around your head in a hallucinatory haze. Another Burning Witches alumni is Isvisible Isinvisible. His debut cassette release earlier this spring was a bubbling cauldron of pure analog bliss and on “The Level Crossing” he continues that vibe to stunning effect. You can practically see blinking lights, wires crossing, and a circuital world forming right before your eyes as the song plays on. Espectrostatic’s “The Locust Accord” is all sinister dark grooves with an almost NIN vibe. Imagine “The Perfect Drug” slowed down to a shadowy crawl with an almost Brothers Grimm twisted fairy tale feel.
Elsewhere, Cory Kilduff’s “LV426” emotes with an almost melancholy feel. It’s lifted from his excellent re-scoring of Ridley Scott’s Alien and it works perfectly as a Goth reinterpretation to Jerry Goldsmith’s more sparse, cold score. Timothy Fife’s “Erotic Rites” is inspired by old school Giallo of the sultry variety and it works incredibly well. Fife can go from moody swirls of Berlin School to Mario Bava-inspired melodrama at the drop of a hat. Here he takes the moody Giallo path to wonderful effect.
New to me, Ian Alex Mac’s “Winona ’88” amps up the hard-driving sound of 80s-inspired film music. He melds perfectly both 80s synth pop radio sounds and the work of Tangerine Dream into a perfect mix of mood and feel. Harglow’s “Candle Wax” crank up the industrial drive, putting me more in mind of early work by Skinny Puppy or Nine Inch Nails than anything on a John Hughes film. Closing out the set is worriedaboutsatan’s “Figures, Data”. These two guys are the kings of subtlety, building an almost ambient world through careful sound design and a slow burn dedication to creating mood. It’s a stunning finish to an overall exhilarating musical journey.
Communion is a stunning music trip. It is both an impressive display of the talent Burning Witches Records has brought together under one roof, as well as masterfully-curated compilation that could be the lost soundtrack to that movie you never knew you wanted to see.
It’ll be the coolest mixtape in your collection, too.
It’s always a thrill to come across an album that makes music seem exciting and intriguing just when you think you’ve heard it all. The electronic/heavy synth genre has had a massive resurgence over the last few years. Coming from a place where I love the world of synth and electronic music this is a very good thing to my ears. I’m inspired by these circuit and tube-built worlds where dystopian landscapes, grimy city streets, and desolate space can converge, sometimes even in the same song. There are far too many artists building musical worlds that I love to mention here. I’ll just say that I’m honored to have interviewed quite a few and learn about their process.
Anyways, back to that album I mentioned.
I recently was introduced to the music of Bryce Miller and I’m very happy regarding that introduction. Miller works in the world of film music and design, where his music and sounds are used in film trailers. But if his 2015 album Operator is any indication he should be doing entire films. If you’re familiar with Disasterpeace, Cliff Martinez, Reznor/Ross, and Tangerine Dream then you’ll be right at home on this album. Operator is a dizzying array of 80s movie references, as well as noisier circuit-fed distortion and headier 70s Berlin School fare with a heaping dose of dark synth.
“Voltage” is short and sweet. A melancholy blip of synthetic bubbling and wavering keys that lead into “Ampere”. “Ampere” is full-on sci fi, deep space groove. It’s a mixture of 80s Edgar Froese with more modern touches, ala Ben Lovett’s Synchronicity score. There’s wonky vibes in the underlying synth line, while a slick melody is placed over top to keep things from drifting away. Deft sonic touches make this a beautiful track to get lost in. “Operator” is driven by a late night techno rhythm that is colored in a sweaty disco sheen. A clean key line keeps the track from getting too down and dirty. There seems to be all kinds of moods and emotions fighting to set the vibe here, which makes this track rather mysterious. “Circuit” puts me in the neon decade. The DX-7 sound of the synth, along with that menacing bubbling underneath the melody takes me back to some nondescript Friday or Saturday evening back in my adolescence watching some questionable film I rented. I’m sure killer androids, time travel, and a scantily-clad heroine were involved.
Everywhere on this album there’s a turn to some magical spot that reminds me of growing up on video cassettes. Each weekend it was some other ancient video cassette box I was renting, most of them covered in dust and grime. Some horror, some sci-fi, and most were probably on the Video Nasties list. But despite the schlock-y horror and blatantly exploitative violence and nudity, there was almost always an earnest and emotive score created with magical boxes called synthesizers. They were the hardwired heart and soul of these films. Bryce Miller would have built some serious film score creds in the 80s.
Elsewhere, “Transistor” beeps and blips its way through like some recently-awakened android, while “Static” is absolute analog dread, building tension to maximum levels in just under 2 minutes. “Polarity” feels oddly triumphant in its densely-layered wall of electronic symphony. “Element” has the sonic touches of Tangerine Dream’s late 80s film work, but with a darker backbone and slightly more sinister intent. I could imagine this as end credit music, or listening to this overlooking the ocean. Or another planet.
Operator was meant as a concept album of sorts, with Miller going thru the process of showing, through music, how the mind processes information. If you’re listening to this on cassette(which was released on Cinematic Disco Records here) it works as two parts, with “Part 1” being side one and “Part 2” being side two. It’s a stunning work, both in the scope of the concept and in the execution of composition. But don’t worry, if the concept seems too heady just hit play, grab a beer, and let the songs blanket over you for a bit. It’s a great zone out album, too.
Bryce Miller’s Operator is a beautiful musical work built on a foundation of classic 70s Berlin School, classic 80s film music, and modern sounds. But with all next-level work, it’s tied together by the mind of a truly innovative and original artist. Bryce Miller is that. In the heavy synth resurgence, Miller’s Operator stands very well on its own.
Ryan Lee West’s music as Rival Consoles feels far more lived in and worn than many of his producing peers. He makes electronic music that sounds and feels organic. Past records like Howl, Kid Velo, and Night Melody evoked a truly emotional heft, while still drawing you into sultry grooves and heady electronic rhythms. There is this neo-futuristic vibe to the music of Rival Consoles that brings to mind the vastness of space while still sounding from the earth. It’s not overwhelming, either. The music is subtle and patient, getting you to musical conclusions in a manner that soothes you into a contemplative state. West’s Rival Consoles is an intellectual music journey that never dissuades you from dancing if the mood hits.
With his newest record, the epic and glorious Persona, Ryan Lee West gives Rival Consoles the double album it and we deserve. A dystopian, musical landscape covers the nearly hour-long album, giving us a measured, detailed world of beats and synthetic melodies to lose our minds in for a bit. The sounds and textures on Persona are alone worth the price of admission.
I’m not completely sure whether Ryan Lee West is an Ingmar Bergman fan, or whether the new Rival Consoles is indeed named after Bergman’s masterpiece Persona, but I’m just going to assume there is some correlation between the two. The album cover, which depicts two shapes each looking like one half of a face coming together to form one would indicate that there could be a slight Bergman/Rival Consoles connection. The album, like the album art, does feel like at times two sides coming together to create one.
“Unfolding” opens on what sounds like echoing 808 hits that seem to float off into space. Soon enough the rhythm regulates and a glitchy synth line forms from the darkness. There’s elements of sci fi strewn throughout here that meld into an almost deep space techno feel. All of this leads into the beautiful title track “Persona”. The organic rhythm forms right in front of you as waves of melody seem to twist and turn like musical taffy. If there is a proto-Rival Consoles sound, this song is it. West creates mystery and melody seemingly out of air, then twists it and shapes it into something strange and beautiful.
Elsewhere, “Phantom Grip” builds up glitchy drama and wavering melody over a cloud of electronic looping and dense sonics. “Sun’s Abandon” has the sticky, tacky rhythms of Baths with the dreamy electronic purrs of Massive Attack. There’s a truly unique sound world to get lost in here. “Untravel” would’ve fit nicely on the Blade Runner 2049 score, had Hans Zimmer needed any help. There’s a certain melancholy locked inside this song that is hard to shake. “Rest” is warm, beautiful bubbles of analog noise mixed with what sounds like a cello. “Hidden” is the longest track on Persona at over 7 1/2 minutes. There’s a vastness to this song that feels like slowly falling through space. A mix of Moderat with a touch of Four Tet and a heaping dose of Rival Consoles makes this one of the best songs on this record.
I love electronic music, but I’m very picky about the electronic music I listen to. I’m not opposed to dance floor numbers, but I prefer my electronic music to carry with it some existential heft. Entrancer, Massive Attack, Stereolab, Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus, and when I’m feeling cheeky MSTRKRFT, are all electronic music worlds I love to delve in. Rival Consoles is also on that list, for Ryan Lee West’s ability to create worlds with circuits, tubes, and heavily-affected acoustic instruments seem to affect me on a molecular level. Persona is by far Rival Consoles best record yet. It encapsulates everything that came before it, while expanding the musical world it exists in to more far-reaching territory.
Cory Kilduff was an 80s kid, so that means he was raised on a steady diet of Stephen Spielberg, John Williams, and synth pop. He also developed a fear of clowns(thanks, Poltergeist), a passion for skateboarding, and was changed by Nirvana’s Bleach. Kilduff grew up in Texas in the suburbs, which just outside the city limits near him offered up a vast landscape to hone his imagination and anxieties(only difference between imagination and anxiety is that imagination bends at your will; anxiety does not.) Music became his main artistic outlet, like so many others that came before him and will come after. Back in 2016 he even re-scored Ridley Scott’s classic Alien and blew minds with his synth-heavy take. His score is simply amazing.
Now, Cory Kilduff will soon be debuting on Burning Witches Records. On April 21st Cory will be featured on Communion, a RSD compilation that will also feature many other amazing musical minds showcasing their compositional mastery of the synth vibe and electro heartbeat. Cory is also working on a debut album that will come out with Burning Witches.
I sat down recently and talked with Cory Kilduff about his childhood growing up in Texas, the 80s cinema impact on him, and his musical inspirations.
J. Hubner : So where did you grow up?
Cory Kilduff: I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas during the 1980’s.
J. Hubner: Were you interested in music when you were growing up, or did that come later?
Cory Kilduff: I was always interested in music, but my parents were not really big music people so I had an interesting mix. Outside of Def Leppard and Michael Jackson cassettes I badgered them into buying me early on or the adult contemporary radio my mom would leave on in the car (which did give me a genuine love for things like Whitney Houston, Christopher Cross and Miami Sound Machine), the main way I consumed music was through movies. I would tape movies off the tv and watch them over and over. The soundtracks really became my musical vocabulary. I was very much an Amblin kid so the sounds that I absorbed were of course the scores of John Williams, but also people like Giorgio Moroder and all the synth pop of that era as well.
J. Hubner: With that much musical variety going on, along with digging on soundtracks, your parents must’ve seen you were becoming quite the music fan.
Cory Kilduff: My parents caught on and were supportive enough to get me piano lessons but, as the story has been told to me, I was at a recital playing a Beethoven piece and I added 2 extra notes to the ending and then turned to the audience with excitement and said, “Isn’t that better?!” My piano teacher called my parents a couple days later and quit.
J. Hubner: I’m sure Moroder would’ve added those last two notes as well.So as you got older, who was your “in” into the good stuff. Who was your music pusher?
Cory Kilduff: Later, as I started getting closer to my teenage years, my sources widened. I had an older sister who was into new wave, industrial and goth. I’d be lying if I said she gracefully bestowed this musical knowledge on me as opposed to I would go into her room and steal her cassettes. Still, this was the closest thing I had to a well curated library of exciting new music. I also started skating and hanging out with older kids who would dub me Thrashin’ Magazine comp tapes and other punk records, starting my interest in counter culture and separating music from movies and MTV into something attainable and DIY.
For the curious, here’s a list of some of Cory’s favorite childhood movies. The art that grew the artist, if you will: The Goonies, Rad, BMX Bandits, Gleaming The Cube, Thrashin’, Tron, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Flight of the Navigator, The Shining, The Fly(1986), Cat’s Eye, Red Dawn, The Dark Crystal, and The Last Unicorn…to name a few.
J. Hubner: Given your Alien re-scoring awhile back, horror and sci fi must’ve made an impact on you. Were you a big a fan of the horror section at video stores growing up?
Cory Kilduff: I was a big fan of video stores– period. However, my parents were fairly protective so there was a lot of bringing tapes to them and getting shut down based on graphic cover art. This was probably for the better because I was a pretty sensitive kid who scared easy. After seeing Poltergeist for the first time, I gathered up anything clown related in our house, loaded all of it up in a wagon, pulled it up the street and just dumped it in a neighbor’s yard who was having a garage sale. Clowns still give me anxiety to this day. Horror movies were reserved for slumber parties and were this sort of group activity growing up. We would all get together and someones parents would let us rent Halloween or Friday the 13th and we would all be stupid. If I’m being honest, I was probably always the kid in the room asking, “yeah, but have you guys seen Beat Street? We should get that” I did love sci-fi fi though. I adored the escapism, as well as the world-building of the fantasy elements. The suburbs are boring places and can seem small in their own way. Sci-Fi movies gave my imagination a friend to hang out with.
J. Hubner: Did you have any favorite directors that you’d follow their work religiously?
Cory Kilduff: I didn’t pay much attention to directors as a kid. I mean, you couldn’t help but know Spielberg. Of course I was watching anything he did. More than anything, I was grabbing whatever looked interesting and I could get my hands on, from Killer Klowns to The Gate. I would also watch anything with Stephen King’s name attached to it.
J. Hubner: What was the first album to really blow your mind? That one that felt like it rewired your brain to see things differently?
Cory Kilduff: I have a 2 part answer to this, sorry.(laughs)
Writing music always seemed like a tall mountain to climb and also something wholly disconnected from my day to day life. The musicians I looked up to seemed so far down a path that I didn’t know how to start. When you idolize Quincy Jones’ work with Michael Jackson that can be tough to visualize how you get there. Around the time I was 14 or 15 Nirvana’s Bleach found its way into my hands. I loved it instantly. I was having a rough time as a teenager and this was a record that felt like it understood that and made depression feel much less alone. The other thing it did, which was just as important, was that it gave me a feeling that I could do that. Suddenly music wasn’t just drumline in the school marching band or something MTV made seem so far removed from my actual life. I bought a pawn shop guitar immediately and learned the power chords I needed to play those songs. I took that knowledge and started writing my own. Like anything I was just copying at first but I never stopped writing and that was the starting point for every musical project that followed.
J. Hubner: So Bleach led you down the path?
Cory Kilduff: You want to talk about “rewiring my brain”– I know the exact record that did that though. I was about 19 or 20 and was working in record stores at the time. I’d been playing in punk/hardcore bands for a few years but had started to feel a little stagnant. I was alone late at night and started rifling through the jazz bin. I had very limited exposure but always liked what I heard people play. I picked up John Coltrane’s – “Sun Ship” and it changed everything for me. Here were these sounds and notes and arrangements that were making some of the most expressive music I’d ever heard. I started to think of music so much more like the art it is. This was what a Jackson Pollack painting sounded like I thought. My whole approach changed, it wasn’t just about verse/chorus or soft/loud anymore it was about how sound could make a person feel and communicating how I felt through a musical vernacular. That was really when I opened up to everything and really started to listen to more composers like Angelo Badalamenti. But also my start into electronic music and artists like Squarepusher and Oval which directly leads me to the music I’m working on today.
J. Hubner: Let’s talk about Burning Witches Records. You have contributed the song “LV426” to their upcoming RSD 2018 release ‘Communion’. First of all, how did you get hooked up with Darren and Gary?
Cory Kilduff: Word about my Alien rescore got around and when we did the screening of it at Alamo Drafthouse, we produced some limited cassettes of the score to give away. I sent a few to a guy in London who contacted me and I assume that’s how they got a hold of them. They contacted me a few months ago and asked if I would like to make a record for them. They’ve been really great to work with and I’m pretty excited with the final product.
J. Hubner: Speaking of ‘Alien’, your track “LV426” is a reference to a moon in the film. How did the re-scoring of Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic come about? It’s some really brilliant work, and one that seems like it was very long process.
Cory Kilduff: I spent some years living in the UK writing and producing dance music but had moved back to Texas and hadn’t felt inspired by the music or the music industry in quite some time. I knew I wanted to do more with my love of movies and wanted to use my electronic production experience to score for someone. I figured I both needed to create some type of proof of concept work and also to test myself. Learn how the ‘rules’ of scoring to picture was different than writing what I was used to. I had to do my homework. I picked 3 movies that I was really interested in and they were Eyes Wide Shut, Bright Lights Big City and Alien. I didn’t want to just write music over a silent version of a film and luckily I found a copy of Alien with almost no music in it but the dialogue and FX intact. I’d always loved the original score (both of them) and with it being more orchestral it gave me a great chance of creating something very different from the original. I worked to create tension in a different way, through repetition while also leaning on nostalgia to keep the synths sounding of the time.
J. Hubner: How did the screening at the Alamo Drafthouse go?
Cory Kilduff: It couldn’t have gone better. That was a real bucket list night for me. I love them so much and it was great to be welcomed like that. My friend Pete runs a publication in Dallas called Central Track; he knew about this project I was working on and was trying to find a reason to work with Drafthouse. He called me and said he thought it was a great fit and wanted to make it happen. They said yes and set a date and then I had a panic attack because I had to actually finish this thing in a matter of weeks that was only about half done after 9 months! We showed it once and sold out the big screen in Dallas. That was a real trial by fire moment. Alien is rightfully beloved and here I was in a room full of its fans fucking with their good friend. It could have gone real bad. I was so nervous. Drafthouse graciously let me come in late one night and screen most of it with just me and my girlfriend as I scribbled down pages of mix notes to go back and tweak for the final mix. I made that whole thing in my living room on a laptop and a few synths but it had to sound huge in the theater like it was worthy of the film playing on screen.
J. Hubner: That sounds like an amazing and gut-churning experience. I’ve watched the re-scored version of the film and I think it’s pretty brilliant. So now that you’ve made a fan out of me, what else are you working on that we might see in the near future? You’ve got a pretty brilliant group of songs you’re readying for Burning Witches Records that will be coming out under your own name, right? No nom de plumes?
Cory Kilduff: I am releasing this under my own name. This will be the first proper release I’ve ever done that way. First off, I’m super happy about what looks like a synth revival or wave of synth music that seems to be really forming a pretty extensive genre. I’m a fan of it, especially of artists like Wojciech Golczewski, Steve Moore, SURVIVE, Sinoia Caves, Joel Grind and the Italo wave artists like Vercetti Tehnicolor. A lot of this genre has such a strong connection to horror movies which I do too but I was really afraid of stepping on toes and also repeating myself from the Alien score since I had just come off that. I need something to write to though. A concept, a story, or an idea but most importantly, I need an emotion. When I sat down and started playing with sounds I kept writing to nostalgia but it was sad. There was no doubt a connection to the ‘80s and the sounds of my childhood. I found I wasn’t thinking fondly of horror movies but of the introspective dramatic scenes that stayed with me emotionally all my life. I thought about the train scene in Risky Business, the death in Less Than Zero, and the isolation of Bright Lights Big City. But the singular image that kept popping up was Molly Ringwald. I kept coming back to her characters and realized that I was writing music for that point in all her movies where everything gets too much and she finally can’t take it and cries. So I started working from there. I used what felt like sadder, more introspective arpeggiations and layers that built into lush walls of sound to feel at times like overwhelming emotions. I started saying to myself that the record I was making was more John Hughes than John Carpenter.
J. Hubner: I think what the world needs right now is a score to Molly Ringwald’s many 80s emotional breakdowns. I was an 80’s kid/teen as well and I know exactly what you’re describing. I need this album. Who are some musical starting points for you here?
Cory Kilduff: As for musical influences, they range, but I purposefully set out to make a record with no drums on it. I was listening to a lot of ambient and strictly synth composition music. When I start a new project, I always make a ‘homework playlist’ to immerse myself in. Some of the things in that were Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Cliff Martinez (Solaris score), Paul Haslinger’s Halt and Catch Fire work, Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein, M83, and Alessandro Cortini.
J. Hubner: Did you take part in SXSW this year? Curious to know your thoughts. There seems to be either love or hate for the festival, and as an outsider I’d be interested to hear your perspective.
Cory Kilduff: I am not. I lived in Austin for about 10 years and still consider it a second hometown. I played SXSW almost 10 times both in Hardcore bands and with dance music projects. It’s a fickle beast. Some years were amazing and I would get to play to Jello Biafra and David Byrne or open up for Moby. I got to see some amazing bands that never came to Texas before like Phoenix and Mogwai, but after a few years they got overprotective. They would work with the city to shut down unaffiliated parties via the fire marshal. The crowds got too big and you couldn’t navigate the shows with any reasonable expectation to get into a show. The trade off of standing in line for 5 hours to maybe see James Blake play just wasn’t worth it anymore. The machine that is SXSW is ruthless and vindictive to the artists and I don’t think I will ever play an official show for them again, but I have friends who throw great parties showcasing real breakthrough talent. So if I ever am at SXSW performing again, then it would be in that context.
Pick up Burning Witches Records Communion compilation on Record Store Day Saturday, April 21st 2018 at your nearest participating brick and mortar music retailer. Check out Cory Kilduff, and keep an eye out for his debut release with Burning Witches Records.
If you at all dabble in modern electronic or synth-heavy music, then Holodeck Records should be a name you’re familiar with. The Austin-based record label is a musician-owned and operated vinyl & cassette(and digital) sort of affair. It’s ran by members of S U R V I V E, Troller, Thousand Foot Whale Claw & Future Museums. You could say it’s a boutique record company, but that makes it sound elitist. On the contrary, Holodeck Records is the epitome of the DIY aesthetic. It’s a label created by artists for artists. It’s a home for musicians that couldn’t find a place to express themselves freely, and now they can. Daniel Lopatin’s Software Recording Company attempted to create a similar vibe, but he got too busy melting frontal lobes to keep up with the day to day of running a label. Holodeck is just as much a musical cooperative as it is a record label. They are becoming to modern electronic and heavy synth what labels like Creation and 4AD were to early 80s alternative.
Since its inception in 2012, Holodeck Records has hosted a bevy of talented musicians and their visions. Those visions are what make up the very first Holodeck compilation collection. Holodeck Vision One brings under one roof everything that makes Holodeck Records so unique. Styles as diverse as synth pop to abstract noise and psych rock to electronic dance music, they are all represented here in a masterful 2 1/2 hour listening experience. Holodeck Vision One is a mind-expanding sampler platter for the true musical explorer.
My prediction is that in 5 years(or maybe less) there will be a vinyl pressing of Holodeck Vision One. It’ll be an extremely limited 3 or 4 LP box set with intricate liner notes written by musical scholars regarding the label’s inception and insider details about artists like Dust Witch, Dallas Acid, Future Museums, Virgin Pool(love that name), Skullcaster and Sungod. Details regarding the songs included; like recording processes, studio notes, and enough gear porn to make Tape Op magazine look like a crumpled copy of Hustler. In years to come this will become a coveted vinyl set and one extremely important to electronic music, much like the Nuggets set was to the early days of psych.
I will own this, oh yes I will.
But until that day comes, this is an easily downloadable set of up and coming and well established musicians. To hit each one song by song would be madness, so let me just say there is no lulls and no weak points here. Holodeck Vision One is a solid 2 1/2 hours of hazy, mind-expanding electronic music for the listener with exquisite tastes.
Here is, however, a few highlights:
Omni Gardens: “Ceiling of the Mind” is a delicate slice of ambient/new age that has the sound of ice crystals forming on a pre-dawn window. It brings to mind the work of JD Emmanuel and Klaus Schulze in contemplation mode.
Michael C Sharp: “Blublocker” goes all Komische with his languid slab of synth goodness. There’s also elements of the avante classical movement of the early 70s with Terry Riley peeking thru the heady synth structures.
Curved Light: “Endgame Scenario” has a majestic quality to it. Dreamy, distant-sounding organ seems to hang in the air, like some Gothic and mystical cloud. The song shifts from a baroque chamber piece to something more spectral; futuristic even. It’s quite stunning.
Michael Stein: “No Standard” has a neo-futurist pop sound. It’s like Kraftwerk got heavy into bass and 808s. The ghostly, robotic vocals add a real air of eeriness.
Dust Witch: “Sister Planet” is the type of song that should pop up in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune films. These guys capture a certain kind of musical majesty that you don’t hear a whole lot these days. They’re definitely progressive rock with elements of cinematic sweeps and spins. This song in particular captures the best of Goblin’s film work, while also pulling in classic Genesis and even some Popol Vuh. If you haven’t heard of Dust Witch yet, welcome. They’re about to blow minds globally.
Future Museums: “Calcite” is a beautifully low key track, throwing in elements of Krautrock, synth pop, and ambient.
Norm Chambers: “Crossing Over” is just an eloquent piece of heavy synth. Atmospheric, melancholy, and envelopes you in its beautiful circuitry.
Windows1995: “Chills Hill” puts me in mind of Tangerine Dream, but if Froese were into post-rock. Has a very meditative feel to it as well. Gonna lay out a blanket underneath the darkening big sky and open my brain a bit to this.
Troller: “Rodan” is this noisy, sci-fi soundscape that feels like waking into some post-apocalyptic world. It’s like Mica Levi trapped inside a nuclear-powered oscillator. Quite stunning and overwhelming.
This isn’t even a third of the artists on this compilation. Artists like Dallas Acid, Joey, Automelodi, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Virgin Pool, Sungod, Kyle Dixon, Samantha Glass, Bill Converse, and Skullcaster all seriously blow minds on this album. Not a dull moment here.
Holodeck Vision One is an epic listen. A glimpse into a music scene that is growing and thriving day by day. It’s a testament to the power of community and artists coming together for the greater purpose of creativity. It will blow your mind if you let it.
I had a really strange dream. It was one of those dreams you have between the time your alarm goes off and that extra bit of sleep you gift yourself before having to get up. I’d fallen back into a semi-sleep state when I’d dreamt I was sitting in a cafe. A rather attractive woman came to my table wearing some nondescript college sweatshirt and she asked me if I wanted to order something. I was looking at a computer screen and on the screen was the band page for a band called Dust Witch. I asked the woman if I could order the song “Hibernaculum”. She was a bit flustered and started staring at the screen in front of me. “Umm, well, I’m not sure. We may be out of that. Let me go check and see what we have that’s available.” I nodded and gave her a smile like an old man would give to a young waitress on her first day of waiting tables.
Before she could come back and let me know what was what my back told me it was time to get up. It was a strange dream to just pop up out of nowhere. I guess it’s not that odd since the East Coast band Dust Witch has been on my mind lately. I picked up their Death Waltz Originals 7 inch sometime before Christmas after hearing their song “Mirage” and pretty much being blown away. Their music is this mixture of Goblin and Tangerine Dream, but with a far earthier feel than either. There’s like 6,7, or 20 guys in the band. It’s not a couple synthesizers and a druggy light show; it’s a bunch of dudes laying down some supernatural vibes with a bunch of instruments(and maybe some druggy lights, too.) Even the artwork for the 7 inch sleeve gives off a Gothic, 70s aura. Like Frank Herbert meets Frank Frazetta. Basically, this 7 inch wet my appetite for a full-length LP that I have no idea is coming.
I wish I could say that from the beginning I knew that the name Dust Witch came from a Ray Bradbury novel, but I’d be lying if I said that. In fact, a friend of mine who is a Bradbury scholar was the one who pointed that out after I went to him and bragged about how amazing this band called Dust Witch was. The name comes from a story I’m familiar with, but in movie form. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a Disney movie from the early 80s about two boys around the beginning of the 20th century that get caught up in a mystery involving a carnival that comes to their Midwestern town. The carnival is run by a man called Mr. Dark and he doesn’t run a run of the mill carnival. In the film Pam Grier plays the Dust Witch, which is a surprise for me now as I had no idea. Anyways, for a Disney movie it was a damn good movie. Genuinely scary, creepy, and well made.
I can see why the guys in Dust Witch went with that name. Their sound is dark, mysterious, and somewhat foreboding. Synths and keys play a big part in their sound, but like Goblin, while synths are prominent they’re a real band. Drums, bass, guitar, and synths all come together to make this otherworldly sound.
Dust Witch recently contributed a song to Holodeck Records first compilations album titled Holodeck Vision One. This thing is a sprawling 30-song collection of everything from ambient, progressive, remixes, and of course heavy synth. Dust Witch mix things up with their track “Sister Planet”. Once again I was blown away by this band. So many vibes.
I guess this is all essentially a roundabout way of telling you all about this weird dream I had, and that apparently Dust Witch is haunting my subconscious. But which Dust Witch? Pam Grier, aka Foxy Brown, the sultry siren of a Disney kids movie that was really too scary for kids? Or is it the heavy synth band from Massachusetts? My dream would say the band, but I’m actually fine with both. If you weren’t hip to Dust Witch(the band), consider yourself hipped. Check ’em out, both their 7 inch and that Holodeck compilation. Heady stuff.
All of Them Witches bring dark and eerie things to mind with its wistful and mournful sounds, and that’s a very good thing. Listening to their 2016 debut The Coven brought to mind the slight hint of campfire smoke hovering in the air, distant light flickering in a dense forest, a dead moon hanging in the night sky, and a boarded up cabin off the beat and narrow that holds secrets our feeble minds cannot bear to comprehend. These are the things I thought of when I first heard The Coven. All of Them Witches, a one-man operation, runs on the imagination and nightmares of Gary Dimes. He steps into the musical world of 70s and 80s horror cinema and stitches together musical motifs and Gothic melodies that wouldn’t be out of place in stories told by Argento, Romero, Coscarelli, and Carpenter. There’s even hints of NES’ Castlevania(check out “Devil’s Pepper” for proof) lingering on The Coven.
In just a couple weeks Gary Dimes is releasing the newest All of Them Witches album on an unsuspecting 2018 and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hunters Moon builds upon the foundation of The Coven and pushes the scope and vibe to new, glorious highs.
The first track to hit you is the eloquent “Copper Bones”. It has a decidedly 80s feel. Something like John Harrison’s excellent Day of the Dead soundtrack, but with an OMD vibe. It’s a lush track covered in layers of synth with an electro rhythm that carries the track along. “It’s Not Cranberry Sauce” is all electro queasiness. Dimes lays it on pretty thick here, and to stunning effect. It really does sound like something from some obscure early 80s slasher. “Hele Bay” is a rock solid techno nightmare. It’s like a mixture of Carpenter stabs with a psychedelic take on Vangelis’ Blade Runner score. With headphones on this one is quite the disorienting number. “Westward Foams” wavers in the air like some ominous omen. It starts out with elements of Charles Bernstein’s A Nightmare On Elm Street score but quickly morphs into its own beast.
All of Them Witches doesn’t leave a single moss-covered rock unturned musically. You stay engaged having a feeling of familiarity, while still knowing this is all new to you. Like wondering if you dreamt what you are hearing years before. Something like “The Arrival” opens with an existential drone that builds into something I’d describe as triumphant. “Triple Stones” has a galactic terror vibe with it’s electro funk rhythm guiding the claustrophobic synths through the dark. “The Otherworld” is beautiful in its vastness and spatial musical landscape. There’s a definite sci fi vibe. It’s very reminiscent of Wojciech Golczewski’s work on his trilogy of space albums(The Signal, Reality Check, and End of Transmission.) These contemplative moments are when All of Them Witches shines. They add a vulnerability to Dimes work, amidst all the psychic terror happening throughout the album. “Silently Stalking” goes nearly full horror disco, bringing to mind something you might’ve heard in an early Abel Ferrara film.
Gary Dimes, aka All of The Witches, pays homage to the scores that musically framed our nightmares in the 70s and 80s, but doesn’t ever merely ape a Carpenter or Argento score. Musically he’s created new nightmares to follow us into sleep. Hunters Moon is an exquisite musical journey into pain and pleasure. It has such sights to show you.
Hunters Moon will be released in March. Follow Burning Witches Records at their website and their Bandcamp page for more information. Check out tracks “Copper Bones” and “The Otherworld” here. Check a teaser video out here.