A Baker’s Dozen of 2020

 

2020 was a year full of changes for all of us. From one lock-down to the next, we were bound to spend a whole lot of time in isolation. If it weren’t for the Internet, I’d have gone crazy, and I am sure many of you feel the same.

With the Gothicat festivals we are trying to keep our music scene alive, and it was great to see that people liked the idea, others were inspired to make something similar. As you can imagine, the presentation of the Gothicat Festivals took quite some effort, therefore I had less time for The Wave of Things. Around 20 episodes is still not too bad, I had some great talks, among others with Bestial Mouths, Ash Code or Then Comes Silence. The show also had a big anniversary with the 100th episode, where many great artists have shown their support for the programme.

Now I would like to round up the past year with my usual Top 13, my personal best-of dark alternative songs of 2020. Why 13, you ask? 10 is too less, 13 is special. In my country Austria 13 is a lucky number, which we symbolically give to each other on New Year’s eve as a lucky charm.

 

Dover Lights – Memory Dissolves

Dover Lights, a new project from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, has caught my attention with their melancholic folk noir song ‘Three Women’. Shortly after that, the duo surprised with another great song, ‘Memory Dissolves’, a magnificent post-punk anthem, which makes hungry for more. The wait is soon over, as Dover Lights’ debut will come out next month.

 

Aux Animaux – Stockholm Syndrome

Some months ago I had a great talk with Aux Animaux on the show. Aux Animaux is the one-woman-project of Gözde Duzer from Turkey, who is living in Sweden’s capital Stockholm. With the synth-driven song ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ Gözde draws her own picture of the city she lives in.

 

Молчат Дома/Molchat Doma – Звёзды/Zvezdy

One development I really like in the past years, is that the dark alternative music from Eastern Europe earns more and more its fixed place in the global post-punk consciousness. Spearheaded by Belarusian band Molchat Doma, the Russian Doom movement has made its way to the west. After the epic album Etazhy, the post-punk band from Minsk is back with the — although more commercial sounding- , but nonetheless exciting album Monument.

 

Karlův Týn – Укусил сугроб / Ukusil Sugrob

Speaking of music from the Russosphere: The well-established Giant Waves from Volgograd are back with their side-project Karluv Tyn, named after an amazing castle in the Czech Republic. Coming from a time before Russian Doom was a thing, Karluv Tyn fall into its pattern, but also are positively innovative, creating a special sound of their own.

 

Starbabe – Attack

The French/Israeli duo Starbabe works with analogue gear to forge an industrial sound somewhere between KAS Product and Laibach. In a similar manner as the latter, Starbabe are criticising the ruling ideology with their latest single ‘Attack’, a track that literally kicks your butt.

 

Marcel Wave – Moon King

A new protagonist in the new wave scene is Marcel Wave from Glasgow. Inspired by synthpop and the new romantics of the early 80s, like Visage or Ronny, Marcel re-tells the story of the Bavarian Ludwig II., the Moon King, known world-wide for his dream castle Neuschwanstein.

 

Peppy Pep Pepper – Decay

Peppy Pep Pepper is the pseudonym of Vienna-based synth artist Violet Candide. Violet is also known as a member of the minimal wave projects Mitra Mitra and Violetiger. In September Peppy Pep Pepper released the song ‘Decay’ which since has become a constant of my daily music fix.

 

Swesor Bhrater – Nature

Swesor Bhrater is a neofolk-industrial project from France. Sol Invictus is obviously a big inspiration for the band, but not without them adding some distinct features of their own. The song ‘Nature’ is inspired by Emily Dickinsons famous poem of the same name.

 

Rome – Ächtung, Baby! (feat. Alan Averill)

Jerome Reuter AKA Rome is the only musician from Luxembourg that I am aware of, and he has been one of my favourite artists for many years. The neofolk legend is very busy, sometimes releasing two albums in the same year. April 2020 saw the release of the single ‘Ächtung, Baby’, a collaboration with Alan Averill, the frontman of the Irish black metal band Primordial.

 

Ash Code – 1981

Many people have asked me which song is playing in the background during my presentations at the Gothicat Festival. It is the song ‘1981’ by the post-punk band Ash Code from Napoli. Being a constant and a figurehead of the Italian dark alternative scene, Ash Code know exactly how to mesmerise their fans with catchy guitars, driving synths and somber vocals.

 

Then Comes Silence – Apocalypse Flare

In May I had a great talk with Alex and Mattias from the Swedish group Then Comes Silence. Settled somewhere between metal and dark alternative music, the band has a foothold in both music worlds. In March Then Comes Silence’s fifth studio album Machine was released, a record which has been very well received by critics and fans alike.

 

Truck Stop Alien – Desolate

Truck Stop Alien is a crazy project from the most isolated city in the world: Perth in Australia. The duo is producing music as if there was no tomorrow. Alone in this year Truck Stop Alien have released several EPs. This is also due to their impro-style approach to music, songs or whole Eps are often recorded in one go.

 

Murmur of Monks – Sacrament

Murmur of Monks is the criminally underrated project of the mysterious Belgian musician Humwawa. Inspired by the writings of HP Lovecraft and other horror authors as well as by religious symbolism, Murmur of Monks create a unique blend of dark ambient, industrial and classical music, self-defined as blacktron, goreography and gothscore.

 

About André Savetier

Since 2011 André Savetier is actively working as a music journalist with an expertise on contemporary new wave music phenomena. His scientific specialization is anthropology of music and anthropology of popular culture. Savetier remains intrigued by the interplay between the aforementioned social phenomena, the told (and untold) legends of music and its roots.

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