Another year is almost over, my work kept me quite busy, therefore, there was unfortunately little time left for the show and for music making. I had some great talks however, with newcomers Dover Lights from Arkansas, the rising star of Russian post-punk BLAZH, and the multi-instrumentalist Grey Blatsa. Together with my friends Xaron and Xris we had a great discussion about Russian doom and Sovietwave. In May and July two more Gothicat Festivals were organised, where I had the honour to present you the best music of the contemporary dark alternative scene. And in October we finally released all our Deus Faust Halloween songs as an EP, including our newest piece ‘Netherworld’ which is inspired by American horror author Edgar Allan Poe.
The Reality TV — Beats
One of the biggest surprises this year was the emergence of The Reality TV. It is the one-man-project of English musician Benjamin Mace-Crossley who definitely hit a nerve with the track ‘Beats’. It sounds like it comes directly from the 80s and has one of the best basslines I have ever heard.
Metal Disco — Trans-doll
Toxic Razor from Greece is best known for being one half of the duo Paradox Obscur. The music lover is also responsible for the synthwave project Beatbox Machinery and the harsher darkwave/EBM adventure Metal Disco. With his recent release, the EP Misbehave, Toxic Razor has reached new musical heights, as best showcased with the song ‘Trans-doll’.
BLAZH — Nebo
BLAZH is the moniker of Alexei Bazhenov from Saint Peterburg. His first song ‘Tryumy Korabley’ has reached over one million views on YouTube and 2021 finally saw the release of BLAZH‘s debut album Pod Kontrolem. The Russian musician is notorious for blending post-punk with elements of doom and black metal what gives his music a very unique sound. I really like all of Alexei’s songs and it was really hard to pick a favourite. My choice fell on the song ‘Metvaya Styuardessa’, a post-punk track with distinctive black metal riffs.
Rain to Rust — Dead Violets Night
Post-punk band Rain to Rust from Istanbul has only released one song in 2021, namely ‘Dead Violets Night’, a collaboration with fellow Turkish band N.L.P. It is a very catchy tune, on which both singers show the best their voices can do. The singing style of the N.L.P.-singer reminds me a lot of Austrian legend Falco.
Starbabe – Echec et Mat
Several times I have talked about the French project Starbabe. Their industrial sound is novel and intriguing, best enjoyed together with the corresponding video, a crazy and disturbing collage of film clips. For 2021 my favourite Starbabe-song is ‘Echec et Mat’.
Soft Riot – Windows to the Wild
Jack Duckworth AKA Soft Riot is known for his eccentic personality, catchy synth tunes and rememberable crazy videos. As a graphic designer and video engineer the visual aspects of the music are very important for Jack, as showcased with the song ‘Windows to the Wild’, released in November 2021.
Paris Alexander – Renaissance
Music producer Paris Alexander from Brighton released his long-awaited debut album Renaissance in September 2021. The album was co-produced by Eirene and features collaborations with Antipole and UIU. My favourite is the title track ‘Renaissance’, a thrilling anthem, suitable as soundtrack for longer car rides.
Zagovor – Den’gi
Zagovor — which means Conspiracy in Russian — is the solo-project of Kirill Ovchinnikov from Moscow. Kirill calls his own style ‘sad synth’, a blend of electropop and darkwave. His heavily reverbed somber vocals give the songs a very doomy feel. In 2021 Zagovor released the LP Dialog, of which my favourite track is ‘Den’gi’ / ‘Money’.
Dover Lights – Howling Man
Dover Lights are a duo from Arkansas who released their self-titled debut in January 2021. The music of Dover Lights blends several genres, ranging from post-punk over progressive rock and psychedelia to neofolk. An impressive track on which you can hear all these influences is ‘Howling Man’.
Lejonhjärta – Agents
Lejonhjärta is a band from Gotheburg, Sweden. Their name means ‘lionheart’. This is excellent melancholic synthpop, supported by fragile male vocals. In 2021 Lejonhjärta released the touching single ‘Agents’.
Ductape – Sevmiyor
Ductape is a post-punk duo from Istanbul, Turkey. In 2021 they released their debut Labirent which is a great album. But the song I like most by them came out later, it is called ‘Sevmiyor’. Turkish is a beautiful language suitable for music.
Of the Wand and the Moon – Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow
One of my all-time favourite artists is the neofolk/industrial band Of the Wand and the Moon. The music of Kim Larsen from Denmark touches me in a way no other music can. Ten years after the legendary album The Lone Descent, Of the Wand and the Moon released the long awaited LP Your Love Can’t Hold This Wreath of Sorrow, a perfect soundtrack for cold winter days in front of the fireplace.
Crystal Cage + Yövisio – Perpetual Burn
Crystal Cage is a mysterious music project from Finland. Their sound is diverse, reaching from noise, drone doom and industrial over synthwave to ambient music. Their sound is perhaps not for everybody and not for every day but in my opinion Crystal Cage is one of the best contemporary dark alternative music projects. My favourite for 2021 is the anthem ‘Perpetual Burn’, a collaboration between Crystal Cage and Yövisio.