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Celebrate World Goth Day with Music from Sonsombre, SYZYGYX, Astari Nite, and Aesthetic Perfection!

19 May

One of the things that helped me get through the pandemic was checking out Goth DJ streams on Twitch. I loved seeing how people from all over the world would get together for 2 day marathons and it was a great opportunity to see what others around the world were enjoying. I’m mourning the recent loss of local venues like the Pyramid Club, where I got to see great performances over the years from bands like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Ayria, but I’m hopeful that there will be a resurgence for the scene in the upcoming years.

World Goth Day is May 22. It was started back in 2009 as a way to celebrate the Gothic subculture’s music, clothing, and art. Though of course I’m going to be celebrating listening to classics like music from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, and Bauhaus, I thought for this post it would be good also to look at the current state of Goth in our nation with some popular US bands currently creating music with a gothic aesthetic.

Northern Virginia based Sonsombre was founded by Brandon Pybus, who had previously been involved mostly in the metal scene. The band puts a modern take on the classic goth rock sound of bands like The Wake and Rosetta Stone. You can stream songs from their album One Thousand Graves from Freegal. If you are a Sisters of Mercy fan then this is a band to hear.

Though tricky to say and trickier to spell SYZYGYX is a Washington DC dark wave duo of Luna Blanc and Josh Clark that you should definitely check out. Their name derives from Syzygy a term for the alignment of celestial objects with an added X for the unknown. They describe their music as “bleak post apocalyptic soundscapes fused with retro punk biting synth lines and minor scale hooks.” Stream songs from their EP Hex’n Equinox from Freegal.

Astari Nite
The Miami based band Astari Nite brings a mix of goth and post-punk to delight your nights; they are especially well known for their excellent live shows. Of course if you don’t want to wait to catch them on tour, you can stream music from their album Midnight Conversations from Freegal. One of my favorites is their cover of Voices Carry.

Aesthetic Perfection
One of my current favorites, Aesthetic Perfection is the dark synthwave project of Daniel Graves. You can stream albums including Blood Spills Not Far From The Wound, All Beauty Destroyed, and Til’ Death from Hoopla. My favorite song is the popular single, Antibody. I was lucky enough to get to catch a live performance a few years ago and it was great high energy show.

What is your favorite music to stream? Share it in our comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

A Musical Peak Inside Witch House

28 Apr

Witch House is a darkly atmospheric electronic music microgenre that began to take shape in the late 2000’s/early 10’s.  Its influence can be seen bubbling up to the more mainstream surface in pop music hits like Katy Perry’s Dark Horse or the edgier music and style of Billie Eilish. A worldwide phenomenon, it took a spoonful of Goth, a pinch of Ethereal, and a helping of Trap and combined it into a spooky electrobrew decorated with occult imagery that would be a bit overwrought if not for the fact that the bands never seem to entirely be taking themselves too seriously.  One of my favorites, that is pretty exemplary of the genre, is Australian artist, Goo Munday’s, Eyes. Thanks to streaming a lot of DJs on Twitch during the Pandemic Shut Down, I’ve grown fond of Witch House, which some of my favorites mixed in with their Industrial and Goth sets. I thought I’d take a quick look behind the curtain into the mysterious Witch House with six artists, whose work has been labeled as being part of the genre (though as often time is true with music, they are all uniquely individual in their own right).  You can stream their music from Hoopla or Freegal.

Many Witch House bands incorporate unusual spellings of their names, songs, or album titles using things like triangles and Unicode symbols.  Hence the spelling of one of my favorite Witch House bands Ic3peak.  Ic3peak formed in 2013, in Russia, by duo Anastasiya Kreslina and Nikolay Kostylev. They have recorded songs in both English and Russian, although much of their more recent music is in the later.  Sometimes categorized as rap, Anastasiya’s vocals although at times sung, other times more resemble chanting. Freegal features several of their albums.  Some of their more popular tracks are Плак-Плак (Boo-Hoo), Марш (Marching), and Смерти Больше Нет (Death No More). If you are a fan of South African experimental electronic rap act Die Antwoord, this could be a new favorite.

Δaimon, frequently spelled as Aaimon consists of the San Diego couple Brant Showers and Nancy Lutz. I found their self-titled album, available to stream from Freegal, suspenseful and majestic with haunting vocals. You can also check out EPs and remixes of songs including a terrific version of Exu Rei, remixed by popular Witch House artist, Mr. Kitty.

Sidewalks & Skeletons
The United Kingdom’s Sidewalks and Skeletons is the solo-project of Jake Lee, who started his career as a metal guitarist, before focusing on creating dark electronic music and to me you can see some of his early influence in the metal genre in his current work.  You can check out the Sidewalks & Skeletons track Exhume on the Occult Box Compilation from Cleopatra that also offers up a sample of other delightfully macabre music which is worth a listen.

Pastel Ghost
Austin, Texas based Vivian Moon is the force behind Pastel Ghost. I enjoy Pastel Ghost’s distorted vocals which makes me think of a more electro-rave form of the shoegaze, I loved back in the 90’s. Pastel Ghosts is a bit more ethereal and a little less spooky than some others on this list. Freegal features a plethora of Pastel Ghost’s work including a remix of Shadows done by Sidewalks and Skeletons as well as a version done by Mr. Kitty.

Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles are a Canadian group whose name came from a commercial for a toy for She-Ra’s castle, which included the lines “The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castles” and “Crystal Castles, the source of all power.”  Probably the most well known of the bands I’m writing about, you can borrow all four of their albums from Hoopla and at some BCCLS Libraries. The sprinkle of video game like noises in some of their songs has also had their music described as Ninetendocore. If you enjoy fellow Canadian avant-garde singer Grimes, then Crystal Castles is definitely one for you to check out.

Blvck Ceiling
Dan Cuccia known by Blvck Ceiling is from Spokane, Washington.  You can check out his album Throne from Hoopla Digital. I saw one review comparing it to the soundtrack of a Dungeon Crawler and I could definitely see this one adding some ambience to your next Dungeons and Dragons game. My favorite track off the album is Key to the Garden.

Are you a fan of Witch House? Share some of your favorite bands and their songs in our comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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