I have now become the cliche that I have long railed against. Instead of writing, I am telling you about the thing I am doing to avoid writing. I just put together a 5+ hour playlist for gross summer days when all you want is the eerie waning light of September afternoons.
The seasonal shifts aren’t that apparent where I am in Florida, but it’s like damn. You still just *know* when it’s happening. I want that. Now.
Devilish chanteuse crooning her dark, unsettling secrets into your trusting ears and twisting your tender heart, dark pop artist La Femme Pendu conjures her second full-length album, VAMPYR, forth from the midnight portals today.
Don your dark glasses and a single earring: VAMPYR is a 1980’s darkwave party and a celebration of shadows and lustful excess, produced by Grammy nominee Dave Darling and featuring guest appearances by Billy Morrisson, Jake Hays, Damien Done, and the magnificent punk legend Cherie Currie of the Runaways.
About this fête fantôme of an album and its moody revelries, the artist shares that after having been quarantined for more than a year, pale and thirsty for human connection, she felt “like Dracula emerging from putrid soil after his journey on the Demeter.”
As such, she continues, this record was an aspirational one, drawing inspiration from favorites across film and music: bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode. Films like The Hunger, Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Let the Right One In, and Only Lovers Left Alive.
The lyrical protagonists from her first full-length album, Absolute Horrorwere fallible and mortal. In VAMPYR, our narrators are empowered mistresses of the night. And after these many months (years now!) spent in the melancholic limbo and navel-gazing of our self-isolation, a wicked bit of carousing with La Femme Pendu’s vampiric bacchants is profoundly appreciated, even by this wallflower.
“It’s my dream soundtrack to a Halloween rager at a goth club, and these days a gathering like that seems just as dangerous as the bloody rave that opens Blade (1998). It’s no accident I made a record about a contagious undead condition after our collective endurance of this lethal virus.”
Songs that have got me fanged me up, pricked my imagination, and infected me thus far: the dreamy beat of “la somnambule” and the jaunty dread of “la nuit a un prix”.
Because I am a contrarian and refuse to put together a “cottagecore” playlist (even though I listen to this type of stuff all of the time and have for most of my life and I tremendously enjoy it, ha!) I have compiled an AUTUMNCORE playlist. Which, I am sure you understand, is –totally different–
And of course, should you wish to wear these feelings, you can gather some inspiration from the ensemble below, details here.
When this time of year hits I either want ominous airy-sigh folk music woodland twinkles or aggressively retro darkwave synth soundtracks to movies that never existed. There’s no in-between. (But whatever exists in that strange in-between, I probably want to listen to it, too.)
So to kick off the autumn season, we’ll start with a playlist composed of the latter, songs to either make you want to dance or fight zombies, or jump into a spaceship to go to a zombie dance planet rave! It’s incredibly cheesy, but whatever–we love what we love.
I don’t spend the time I used to seeking out and sharing new music. It was a weekly habit at one point in time, but I have to remind myself that the particular point in time I am reflecting on is now a decade or so ago and my life is so much less lonely and wretched than it was at that time. I don’t have the time and energy to devote to this particular task because now I’m spending it with actual people, and I’m just busier and more motivated in general, I suppose. And so the weekly mixes have now become a quarterly occurrence at best, and really, more like twice yearly, if I’m being honest about it.
Ah, well. Such is the way of things. Over on Spotify I’ve curated some things I’ve been listening to over the past few months and while there’s no distinct theme and I suppose the genres are a bit all over the place, I think there’s a bit of eerie melancholia connecting all of it, and which no doubt is what drew me to it in the first place. Anyhow, mixes shouldn’t require explanation. It’s some stuff I’m listening to. You may like to listen to it, too.
A new mix of lullabies and volcanos and the divining of sounds made by cracks in the ice; the eerie creaking shriek as they form, the moan of the wind scouring over them, the ghostly sobs of those who met their end within the fracture.
But mostly, you know, ambient/electronic. Not trying to oversell it.
Það er margt sem myrkrið veit,
– minn er hugur þungur.
Oft ég svarta sandinn leit
svíða grænan engireit.
Í jöklinum hljóða dauðadjúpar sprungur.
There is much that darkness knows, my thoughts are heavy.
Often I watched the black sand burning green meadows.
On the glacier cry deadly-deep ice-cracks.
If you enjoyed this little Icelandic lullaby, then you will find more here. I never thought I’d have comfort blog posts that I’d revisit and spend so much time with over the years, but if I had to pick one, this would definitely be it.
I used to love to share music with friends and would compile playlists on a weekly basis featuring the new, or new-to-me artists that I had uncovered. I both love music and I also love it when someone says, “hey, thanks for introducing me to this new band, I’d never heard of them!” I guess it’s a bit of an ego thing. I always want to be the reason that someone found out about something new and cool. I want credit for something. That’s probably an embarrassing confession, but it’s undeniable. It is also probably something to look at more closely and sit with for awhile, like why is that important to me, and what am I getting from that recognition? I don’t know the answer right now, but it’s a drive that’s compelled me for as long as I can remember.
Sometime in the past few years I’ve slowed down when it comes to seeking out and sharing new music. I don’t have the time for it that I once did, but aside from that, it’s possible I have become more comfortable with just listening to other people’s suggestions, recommendations or even whole-ass playlists. What a weird and dumb thing to think and write, but it’s like, hey, why not let someone else do all the work and get the credit for once? It doesn’t always have to be ME. And also, I don’t have to know everything, I can’t find or don’t have access to everything, so why not listen to someone else’s offerings now? Think of all that I have been missing while I was trying to do it all on my own!
HOWEVER. as part of something else that I will touch on at a later time (although I will note that it is an initiative having to do with revisiting old activities that I loved as an effort to keep myself off of social media) I kinda miss my eternal quest for fabulous new musicians, every-song-is-perfect new albums, and breathtaking new songs and pieces of music. And so I have slowly been dipping my toe back in, and thought I might include a handful of favorites here today.
But ok, wow. This is super frustrating. Apparently with whatever version of WordPress I am using, I can’t embed bandcamp albums. Boo! Stupid WordPress. Whatever. Anyway!
MALA HERBA is a solo project of a sound artist and queer music activist Zosia Hołubowska. Their sets fluctuate between minimal darkwave, experimental interpretation of Eastern- European traditional music, noise soundscapes, and dark techno. Demonologia “is peppered with allusions to Eastern European music, magic, herbalism, and demonology, combining these references with contemporary electronic music. The results are akin to a disco at a witchy ritual.” (I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing about music, so I realize I am pulling a lot of quotes here. This is from The Quietus.)
Pitchfork describes this duo’s sound as that of “disco extravagance with Old Hollywood glamour” and “lush, shape-shifting glam rock, orchestral pop, and breezy psychedelia.” Sounds about right. I concur,
On weekends my partner and I will often share a bottle (or two, le whoopsie) of wine and stay up til the wee hours of the morning listening to music. We particularly love to find new artists and musicians through KEXP live shows.
Tomo Nakayama is a Seattle musician is and songwriter and his most recent album, Melon Day has been touted as an “exuberant synth-pop spectacular” and we just adore this guy. His offerings, to me, just feel so universally relatable. In “Get to know you,” Nakayama sings:
Tell me stories, tell me rhymes Tell me anything you like Tell me all about the good things That could make you feel alive Could be just one little spark Just two strangers in the dark, honey I’d like to get to know you I’d like to get to know you now
…and this conjures so vividly for me the wonderful, exhilarating nostalgia of a first date wherein we went from coffeeshop, to restaurant, to bar and stayed out until 4 in the morning talking and laughing and learning all about each other the first time. Feels! Lots of them!
Bonus! A BPAL Playlist!
Lastly, the folks over at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab polled their fans with the question of what songs make them thing of BPAL scents. The results of this enquiry are reflected in this playlist. I think friends who have been listening to my mixes and playlists for a long time can probably pick out the song that I submitted! Any guesses?
It’s been forever since I’ve put together an installment of For Your Ears, wherein I ramble at you about all the stuff I’ve been feeding my earworm with lately.
…which could be due to the fact that I spent the majority of 2019 listening to the same album on repeat, and while I love you Lana, I think it’s time we start unearthing new sonic baubles again. Here are four possibilities!
Featured is a new series of mixes brimming with delicious lunar energies, created by my best good friend, more of which can be found over on Mixcloud (or played directly above!) For much, much more of her lovely soundwave manipulations and brilliant sonic artforms, take a peek at her website.
La Femme Pendu’s new full-length album, Absolute Horror, was released on the Spring Equinox and I wrote a few words about it over at Haute Macabre. If smoky parlor ballads lyrically inspired by classic horror cinema, sung by a“Satanic Jane Birkin, or Françoise Hardy alone in a graveyard at midnight” is your thing, then you will adore the gloomy diableries of La Femme Pendu.
I have been waiting for this new album from Myrkur for quite some time but I actually haven’t had a moment to sit down and listen to it the whole way through. From what I’ve heard so far it’s a bit of a departure from her previous black metal efforts for more traditional Scandinavian folk songs, but it’s not altogether unexpected–her music has always had that sort of shadow folk sound– and it’s thoroughly gorgeous.
I was honored to be asked by the folks at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab to contribute a playlist to their channel for an BPAL X Haute Macabre collaboration, which you can find on Spotify here, or listen to it, above.
What’s in your earholes right now? Comforting yourself with old favorites? Or keeping yourself busy by searching out new tunes? Let me know in the comments!
For over a decade I made a habit of sharing each mix I made over on 8tracks, so now I guess I’m starting a new tradition over on Spotify…even though it’s not really new, I’ve got 200+ mixes over there!
Track list: Sun Forest by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds | Closer To Grey by Chromatics | The More I Cry by Alice Boman | One Last Kiss To Remember by Trentemoller | Light Caught by January Thompson | All Mirrors by Angel Olsen | Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Hval |Mirror Forever by Weyes Blood | All That Is Beautiful by Mamiffer | The Ocean At Night by Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys | Temples by RISE | The Mother Road by Chelsea Wolfe | Letter Never Sent by Mark Lanegan Band | Coven by RY X | Nowhere to Go by Nicole Saboune | Island Of Doom by Agnes Obel