Darkwave is not dead – 21 fresh bands give proof!
The journey begins
As a kid of the 80s with a passion for electronic music, I also experienced in the ‘New Romantic’ and ‘New Wave’ movement. The son of my parent’s friends was a ‘Waver’ in the 80s, but today we’d call him a ‘Goth’. He was a few years older than me and looked quite like Robert Smith. He was definitely a kind of a cliché, because he lived in the cellar (his parent´s old party room), had a rat and was really into horror movies.
I simply loved to be with him. Especially, I liked the rat and that he and his friends let me watch horror movies with them. Once, when I was around 11-12 years old, they even gave me some booze (Blue Curacao with Orange Juice). Sure this was not the ideal place for a kid to grow up and find its role model, but to me they we´re so cool and impressive, because they didn´t treat me like a child.
Maybe they were a bit impressed by my younger ego themselves, because I had already fallen in love with electronic music which was quite unusual at my age. Thanks to them I got in touch with bands like ‘The Cure’, ‘Siouxsie And The Banshees’, ‘Sisters Of Mercy’, and so on.
Nowadays, when talked about this music style, you often hear the consensus that there’s nothing comparable to the sound of the 80s. But let me tell you, these ‘ever yesterdaysians’ are totally wrong. Open your mind to this list of young, fresh bands playing Darkwave with Batcave attitude at a level like our heros from the past and find the future of this genre in their wake. Please keep in mind that this list is no ranking!
1. Ash Code • Italy, founded in 2013
‘Ash Code’ is the moniker for the meeting of Alessandro’s sensivity and Claudia’s taste. Their music describes a collage of darkwave, noise and electronic music with a solid drum machine. Dark ballads and obsessive beats, deep and melancholic synths, noise and distortions, arpeggiators and delays. Lights and shades. Dances of Death. Visions and theatricality. Coded ash. (Source: Ash Code Facebook page)
2. She Past Away • Turkey, founded in 2006
‘She Past Away’ is a band from Turkey described as the “new dark-wave” in articles and reviews throughout the world. Their music compiles elements from the dark, sensational side of 80’s, often associated with bands like The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Joy Division, Clan of Xymox, Grauzone, and DAF. SPA brings back that era with today’s approach and Turkish lyrics which gives the band that unique edge. (Source: She Past Away Facebook Page)
3. Light Asylum • USA, founded in 2010
‘Light Asylum’ is a Brooklyn-based electronic music duo consisting of Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello. The band released their first EP ‘In Tension’ in 2010. The four track EP was re-released in 2011 through a notable indie label ‘Mexican Summer’. The self-titled début album has been released in May 2012. It has received generally positive reviews from Pitchfork, FACT, Mixmag, NME, XLR8R and The Quietus.
Light Asylum’s music is heavily influenced by 1980s music. Their style incorporates elements of Darkwave, Synth Pop and Post-Punk music and ‘The Guardian’ compared Light Asylum to Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. (Source: Wikipedia)
4. Noir • USA, founded in 2013
Athan Maroulis conceptualized ‘Noir’ as a project that would musically bridge together his Industrial and Gothic past into a very moody electronic present utilizing elements of dance, dark ambient, synth-laced hooks along with touches of glitch and EBM. The result in entitled ‘Darkly Near’ an album influenced by idealized black and white images of New York City, a contrasting filmic backdrop for the aural futuristic pleasures of ‘Noir’.
Lyrically, ‘Darkly Near’ is an album of endings, one that travels through a dreamy death trip of sensuality littered with sinewy faded silent film stars, Rod Serling scripts, con men and the forlorn recollections of a solitary man waiting for a train pressed against the machinery of today. Released on the heels of 2012’s successful single ‘My Dear’ that featured an exclusive ‘Assemblage 23’ remix, Noir’s mature yet strikingly refreshing ‘Darkly Near’ album will be supported with a select series of exclusive live dates. (Source: Noir Facebook page)
5. Hapax • Italy, founded in 2014
‘Hapax’ is a Post-Punk Synthwave project from Naples (Italy) that combines 80’s Darkwave sounds with modern experimental /industrial arrangements. The duo was formed in 2014 and consists of Michele Mozzillo (vocals, bass, synth, lyrics) and Diego Cardone (guitar, synth, programming, artwork).
The debut album was released on December 2014 for the label ‘Swiss Dark Nights’ and is a 11 tracks concept inspired to the narrative device employed by some writers of the early ‘XXth Century’, the ‘Stream Of Consciousness’, which seeks to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which like a flow pass through the mind before they could be logically organized in sentences. A dramatic and exhausting introspection into human soul. (Source: Hapax Facebook page)
6. Kælan Mikla • Iceland, founded in 2013
‘Kælan Mikla’ is a three-piece punk/no-wave band from Reykjavík slowly getting darker and deeper with new waves and more instruments. The band consists of three girls who perform their own poetry and have been described as an avant-garde, fresh breeze into the Icelandic music scene in the past two years.
The band was formed after winning first place in a poetry slam held by the city library in January 2013. They have since then played multiple festivals as well as just finishing a small europe tour. ‘Kælan Mikla’ are known for their dark melancholic sound, most of the songs consisting only of heavy bass, drums and screams with some softer, melodic synth parts in-between.
The bands lyrics focus on inner confusion and their intimidating stage performance, often including performance art of some sort, is bound to leave the crowd in a melancholic trance. (Source: Kælan Mikla Discogs page)
7. Selofan • Greece, founded in 2011
8. Dear Strange • Germany, founded in 2015
The French-German duo ‘Dear Strange’ revives the spirit of New Wave with modern Electronica in a most captivating way on the debut album ‘Lonely Heroes’. Some music just pulls the listener in from the very start. Dear Strange’s epic Electro-anthem ‘The Unicorn’ is such a rare specimen which had the entire Out-Of-Line-staff hooked instantaneously. Now, the duo has completed work on the eagerly awaited debut and it is nothing short of a revelation.
The powerful voice of Dorian E. reminds of Wave-legends like Siouxsie Sioux and envelops the listener in a maelstrom of emotions, while sound wizard Romain Frequency re-invents the feeling of the dark side of the Eighties with Minimal-Electro- and club-sound-elements coming from an armada of synthesizers. (Source: Dear Strange Last.fm page)
9. Double Echo • England/USA, founded in 2012
‘Double Echo’ is a Liverpool and San Diego based duo comprised of Chris Luna and Ash Lerczak. Inspired by the dark side of 1980’s New Wave, Post-Punk and soundtrack music.
10. Love In Cage • France, founded in 2008
‘Love In Cage’ is a trio from Rouen (France) born in 2008. Marielle (Bass, Keyboards) Isthmael (Voice,Lyrics and photography), Alexis (Guitars, drum programming,keyboards). Their music is mainly Cold-Wave, Post-Punk and Electro. (Source: Love In Cage Last.fm page)
11. Sato Sato • England, founded in 2014
My research about some information of this band wasn’t successful. If you like their music just visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/wearesatosato/
12. Hante. • France, founded in 2014
After her previous noteworthy projects Phosphor and Minuit Machine, Hélène de Thoury offers, through her first solo project, a cold and synthetic music mixing nagging cold wave and striking electronics. «Her Fall And Rise» has been released on the 10th of December by the french label Stellar Kinematics. It depicts these moments in life when you swing between dark melancholia and bright hope. (Source: Hante. Last.fm page)
13. Nightmare Fortress • USA, founded in 2011
There is something inherently intoxicating and memorable about the auditory bouquet of Nightmare Fortress. Perfecting their kinetic, alienated dreamscape sound since 2011, the Seattle group’s debut long-player, The Wanting, is an immaculate collection of high-strung synergy, bound to get the mind thinking while dirtying the dance floor.
Nightmare Fortress is Alicia Amiri (vocals), Colin Roper (synths), Blair Field (synths), and Cassidy Gonzales (guitar), who, with the assistance of producer Erik Blood (Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Crypts), have crafted a sound on the darker side of the pop spectrum, showcasing a divine chemistry that gives their intricate orchestrations a potent punch. Where synths drip in layers of swirling, lush harmonies operating in a perfect parallel with tense yet tranquil string work, the backbone of synthetic drums offers a crisp, driving metronome with snare snaps that penetrate throughout. As the centerpiece, Amiri’s sharp voice soars through the rhythm’s open spaces, slowly unfurling in a grand, cinematic arc.
With a selection of cuts to rival that of an 80’s slasher – do your ears a favor and scale up the dark, dangerous, bewitchingly beautiful walls of the Nightmare Fortress. (Source: Nightmare Fortress Soundcloud page)
14. Low-Fi • Italy, founded in 2010
‘Low-Fi’ entrenched in the crack opened between New Wave and Electro.. The trio is melodically leaded by the twins Adriano and Alessandro Belluccio (Ash Code), which avail themself of the new darkwave 80’s side of Fabio.
In February 2012 the label Octopus Records released their debut LP “What we are is secret”, produced and mixed by G.Fontanella (24 Grana) at Key-Lab Studio in Napoli and mastered at Shift Sudios in London (Klaxons, My Vitriol, Pete & Pirates..). A work which compresses and condenses new wave suggestions, punk attitude and electro landscapes, more of 100 good reviews around the world and 60 gigs around Europe. (Source: Low-Fi Facebook page)
15. Lebanon Hanover • Germany/England, founded in 2010
‘Lebanon Hanover’ is a post-punk duo based in Berlin, Germany and Newcastle, UK, founded in 2010 by Larissa Iceglass (guitar, vocals) and William Maybelline (bass, vocals). They offer an ice cold post-punk, fascinated by the beauty of art nouveau aesthetics, exploring British seashores and forests at night as well as inspired by the urbanism of Berlin. (Source: Lebanon Hanover Last.fm page)
16. Sally Dige • Germany, founded in 2012
‘Sally Dige’ (Sa-lee Dee-eh) is a Danish-Canadian artist,designer and songwriter based in Vancouver, Canada. Her first track ‘Immaculate Deception‘ was released at the end of September 2011 and received worldwide enthusiasm and recognition. Her inspiration for this project was to couple both, the abstract with the linear, to take abstract sounds and atmospheric noise and draw them into a linear pop song.
Seductive shadow movements, harlot red lipstick, VHS vanity, sharp eye liner and a wardrobe to die for. Her vivacious performance and dark sexuality immediately summons a spirit similar to ‘Annie Lennox’ of ‘Eurythmics’ fame. But in her unique way she personifies the idea that a synth vixen knows no era. (Source: Sally Dige Last.fm page)
17. Linea Aspera • England, founded in 2011
‘Linea Aspera’ were a minimal synth / darkwave band formed in London, UK that were active from 2011 to 2013. A musical duo, they were fronted by vocalist Alison Lewis (Keluar, Zanias), with Ryan Ambridge on synthesizers; Lewis wrote the lyrics while Ambridge wrote the electronics, as well as mixing and producing the recordings.
Founded in November 2011, ‘Linea Aspera’ were influenced by electronic bands from the 1980s. A reviewer reporting on a gig in January 2012 noted that their music sounded very 80s, and that they had sprung fully-formed from the musical underground of East London. That month self-releasing an extended play cassette, titled ‘Linea Aspera EP’, it was described by the ‘Burning Flame’ website as number one in their Top 20 EPs of 2012. (Source: Linea Aspera Last.fm page)
18. Geometric Vision • Italy, founded in 2012
‘Geometric Vision’ is a band formed by Ago Giordano, Roberto Amato and Gennaro Campanile. Ago started composing songs and lyrics reflecting dark and nostalgic atmospheres typical of dark and cold wave, but with a modern attitude which draws inspiration from contemporaneous German and British minimal synth experiments.
After a while he decides to create a real band which takes more substantial form after having experienced several line up changes… With Gennaro Campanile playing bass guitar and Roberto Amato on guitar everything seems to work out. (Source: Geometric Vision Facebook page)
19. Velvet Condom • France / Germany, founded in 2005
‘Velvet Condom’ was formed during 2005, in Strasbourg, France, by Alice Von (vocals, guitars, keyboards) and Oberst Panizza (programming, keyboards). They consider their music as sad pop tunes played by dead mannequins. As if Synthpop would meet dark guitars and teenage angst lyrics. On one side, the cold and safe synthetics of a condom and the glamorous elegance of velvet on the other.
On stage, the band definitely shows its wilder and noisier side and would mainly use neon tubes and strobe lights to create a psychedelic robot-noise-pop performance. In the beginning of 2008 Velvet Condom has moved to Berlin and released their second record ‘Safe & Elegant’, distributed by the Dutch label ‘Enfant Terrible’, which got very positive feedback from the press and the audience. The band has two faces: they play electro pop in the best 80’s tradition but with a very contemporary feeling AND they play some of the finest indie guitar pop / shoegazer stuff heard since a long time. In a surprising way these two styles fit together very well and the band ends up with one sound for themselves. Stay tuned for the dead mannequin’s nouvelle vague. (Source: Velvet Condom Last.fm page)
‘LISTENOIRE’ is the new incarnation of the art-wave project ‘Velvet Condom’.
20. Drab Majesty • USA, founded in 2013
‘Drab Majesty’ is an inter-dimensional platform aimed at channeling aural and visual messages founded by a human being from Los Angeles in 2013. The human communes directly with it’s spiritual muse/assumed alter-ego Deb Demure to demonstrate the power in relinquishing ownership to a divine design, thereby handing inspiration over to the spirit world – essentially serving as a contractor in business with the Collective Consciousness.
While inherently guitar-driven music in the vain of The Chameleons or Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Drab Majesty’s sound is often nuanced by ethereal washes of icy keyboards and arpeggiated synthesizers, backed by heavy mechanized percussion and forked pulsing synth bass, all adorned with reverb-laden vocals reminiscent of a hallowed cathedral. (Source: Drab Majesty Facebook page)
21. Bestial Mouths • USA, founded in 2009
Pooling together a group of influences as diverse as its members, Bestial Mouths present a raw, synth-driven energy propelled by singer Lynette Cerezo’s powerful vocals. Often likened to Diamanda Galas, Siouxsie Sioux or Lydia Lunch, Cerezo delivers each note with fury and abandon.
Synthesists/keyboardists Christopher Myrick and Gustavo Aldana channel early industrial, EBM, goth and minimal synth pop in turns, blending harsh electronics and lush melodies. When fused to Aldana’s splintered programmed beats and the tribal rhythms and samples of drummer Jessica Reuter, the harmonics combine to breathe new life into post punk, weaving their own distinct creation in the process. (Source: Bestial Mouths Last.fm page)
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Everything comes to an end
As you can see: “Darkwave is not dead – the proof is given!”. I hope you enjoyed the list and don’t feel too grievous now. At best you have found some new bands that you might favour just as much as your old Darkwave heroes.
I’m sure there are a lot of other young Darkwave bands that are not listed here. If you think you know one that other should definitely check out, then comment below.