On Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop, Dark Entries brings us 10 divergent tracks of Mexican electronics from 1980-1989, full of skittering analog drum boxes and saucy synthesizer hooks. 8 of these songs were culled from the 2005 CD-only compilation Backup: Expediente Tecno Pop on AT-AT records. Also included are two previously unreleased cuts. This release marks the first time many of these songs will have appeared on vinyl; it is also the first ever vinyl compilation of Mexican New Wave and post-punk. While synth pop and obscure electronics from Europe and the United States have been extensively documented, much less attention has been paid to such offerings from the periphery. Back Up serves as a vital document of Mexico’s flourishing DIY scene in the 1980s, surveying a wide range of styles and moods. By using home recording techniques, the bands featured here were able to circumvent relying on the expensive studios of the era. Tracks by Avant Garde, Vandana, and Silueta Palida mine the kind of dreary-but-infectious wave that long-time Dark Entries fans will celebrate. Meanwhile, Volti and Artefacto offer a floor-ready pop sound that has echoes of NY freestyle, with Latin percussion and boxy beats. But darker turns are present as well, with Decada 2s New Beat-inflections and electro experiments of Syntoma and their side project Escuadrón Del Ritmo.
Dark Entries is again presenting an essential classic: the Chicago house anthem Essence of a Dream, by Risqué III. K’Alexi Shelby’s illustrious career has included releases on legendary labels such as Trax, DJ International, and Transmat, as well as collaborations with high profile artists such as Marshall Jefferson and Pet Shop Boys. But his musical journey began at the young age of 12, when he befriended Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles while frequenting the Music Box and Warehouse. In 1987, Shelby’s first solo release, Risqué III’s “Essence of a Dream” b/w “Risqué Madness,” was to be cemented in Chicago dance history. He was accompanied in the studio by his cousin and production mentor, Mr. Lee. The tracks effortlessly propulsive house rhythms (courtesy of the Roland TR-727, TR-707, and TR-909), salsa-inflected bassline, and oneiric strings fuse magnificently with K’Alexi’s steamy, Prince-esque verse.
Dark Entries reunites with longtime idols Xymox, also known as Clan of Xymox, to reissue their Peel Sessions. Xymox was founded in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1983 by Ronny Moorings and Anka Wolbert, who were joined shortly by Frank Weyzig and Pieter Nooten. Melding the synthesizer-driven experiments of post-punk and New Wave with the doom-laden atmospherics of the burgeoning goth rock scene, Xymox were one of the key progenitors of dark wave. The success of their 1983 debut EP, Subsequent Pleasures (reissued by Dark Entries in 2014) paved the way for a string of epochal releases on 4AD, where they honed their lush, despairing sound. Following their 1985 debut LP, Clan of Xymox, DJ and tastemaker John Peel invited them to BBC studios to record for his Radio 1 show. These recordings were released in 2001 via the Strange Fruit label on CD and are now available here for the first time on vinyl.
Traxx(Nation) created a 6-hour selection dedicated to Danny’s in Chicago where he held his monthly party Passage. Curated and programmed musically by Traxx, transporting us to a full night of music from 9-pm til 2am. Passage focuses on the new wave/new beat era with a personal collection of music fashioned to alleviate your senses discovering different outtakes and unknown songs. It’s a lengthy journey that hopefully people will enjoy…
Dark Entries announces a deluxe reissue of Sexual Harrassment’s 1983 opus “I Need A Freak”. Lynn Tolliver, DJ/Program Director at Cleveland’s WZAK, adopted the pseudonym David Payton in order to keep his musical endeavors separate from his public persona. Sexual Harrassment (misspelled deliberately) was formed as a concept band, with members selected based on appearance and choreographic skill rather than musical ability. Tolliver’s explicit lyrics focused on the central themes of desire and sexual relations. Working at a studio in Akron, he recorded an album of quirky-yet-lurid electro funk, which was released on Heat Records. I Need A Freak is presented here for the first time on double LP, pressed at 45 rpm for maximum DJ-friendliness.
From time to time I like to take a brief look at what our readers enjoyed the most and the end of the year is always a good time to do so. In order to do this I compile a top 3 of the most appreciated albums, compilations, mixes our readers liked in the last year.
As a cover for this year’s post I choose a map showing from where our visitors come and the first 10 places are the US, Germany, Romania, UK, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Spain, France, Russia and Italy.
Group Rhoda, the solo project of Mara Barenbaum, returns to Dark Entries with ‘Passing Shades’. An integral member of the Oakland electronic music scene, Barenbaum has been writing, performing, and plunging into oneiric depths as Group Rhoda since 2009. This is the project’s fourth LP, and the third time Barenbaum has collaborated with Dark Entries. Passing Shades is an investigation of the metaphysics of loss and the transitory nature of the material world. But it is not a grim collection; over 8 songs, Group Rhoda diverges through synthesizer-laden symphonics, four-to-the-floor inflections, and cosmic musings. Barenbaum’s striking voice and singular songcraft guide us through this labyrinth. Arpeggiated waltz “Flow” channels wisdom sought through martial arts; “Earthly Ark” sets a Margaret Atwood poem from the God Gardener’s Hymn Book to somber electronics. The vocoded canticle “Nevermore” is dedicated to the memory of a beloved cat. ‘Passing Shades’ is both mystifying and revelatory. Folk forms are echoed only to detour into the alien. Each song functions as both a fragment of a larger puzzle and a koan unto itself.
Dark Entries is humbled to continue digging through the archives of legendary producer Patrick Cowley. While best known for his production on chart-topping cybernetic disco anthems, Cowley, who passed away from AIDS-related illness in 1982, left us with a substantial body of work. Since 2009, Dark Entries has been working with Cowley’s friends and family to shed light on the lesser known facets of this singular artist’s output. ‘Some Funkettes’, the latest addition to this series, is a collection of previously unreleased cover songs recorded from 1975-1977. These raw, unembellished tributes both showcase Cowley’s early musical interests and chart the development of his production techniques. ‘Some Funkettes’ was made possible with help from Patrick’s brother Jim and his former studiomate Maurice Tani. The sleeve is a collage designed in 1975 by Cowley’s former roommate Francesca Rosa that was found covering a reel to reel box. It features a yin-yang symbol and a photograph of a scruffy 24 year old Patrick, to which we added his original handwriting. This peek into Cowley’s formative years arrives just in time for what would have been his 70th birthday.
In eleven years of deep digging, Dark Entries has uncovered many curiosities, lone exemplars of the scarsest breeds. They are lurking in Croatia, on the streets of New York, maybe in the back of your own dusty closet – these odd-ball Italo and synth-wave monsters are too rare to live, too divine to die. Once-lost creatures now have a home with Dark Entries’ new Endangered Species series. The inaugural edition features five specimens previously deemed extinct, only mentioned passingly in lore and speculation, but now safely preserved on vinyl. The first cut on Endangered Species Vol. 1 is the previously unreleased electro-New Wave gem “Munich” by John King, an artist best known for his work as one half of the Dust Brothers, lauded producers of the Beastie Boys’ legendary Paul’s Boutique. “Munich”, a Danceteria-ready cut produced in 1983, sheds some light on King’s earlier interests, bridging between freestyle and emotive synthpop. Next up is a rare demo version of The Actor’s “Picture 210”. The Dutch duo here channel both the minimalism of Kraftwerk and the Surrealism of Throbbing Gristle to create one of the finest teary-eyed Goth club anthems. Brazil is a synthpop band from Croatia, and they feature with their 1990 cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”, which is sure to turn some heads on the dancefloor. The eerily faithful production belies Brazil’s re-working of the song’s lyrics. “L’Étranger (Ana Gharib)” by Jamal Khe follows, a pearl originally only available on an impossibly rare French 7” from 1983. Khe is from the Ain Beida region of Algeria, and his Arabic vocal melodies perfectly complement the propulsive percussion and airy arpeggios from producer Jacky Bourgogne. Closing the record is the previously unreleased “Abemus Mind” from Marzio Benellil’s project Nightless. Recorded in 1983, this moody, low-tempo Italo groover features Gregorian chant-inspired vocoders and jazzy piano courtesy of Benelli’s collaborator Marco Falagiani. All songs were mastered for vinyl by George Horn. The sleeve is the first in a series of endangered animal designs by Eloise Leigh, featuring the glam tiger in its natural, 1980’s habitat. Also included is an insert with lyrics, photos, and notes. Please assist us in our efforts to preserve this planet’s weirdest beasts.
Dark Entries unveils the debut of Berlin-based, Dutch-born Steffi new project Crushed Soul, a moniker she had used only once in 2013 for an Ostgut Ton compilation track. ‘The Family of Waves EP’ represents both familiar and novel pastures for Steffi. While her love of electro and classic Detroit techno have been oft-evident, here we witness the darker shades of new wave and industrial creep to the forefront. This turn for the twisted feels not just natural, but predestined, an inevitable succumbing to morbid forces.
Dark Entries presents their first digital-only compilation, featuring reissued rarities and new songs from 10 key artists on the label (Bézier, Bill Converse, Billy Nightmare, Borusiade, Doc Sleep, Group Rhoda, Magnus II, Max Mann, Patrick Cowley and Sepehr).
2020 marks the tenth of collaboration for Red Axes, the Tel Aviv-based duo of Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi. Informed by post-punk, new wave, and a plethora of club sounds old and new, they have cleaved a singular path with their hefty discography. To celebrate their anniversary, they reunite with Dark Entries for an eponymous 11 track LP brimming with jagged guitars, spacy arpeggios, and hypnotic vocals. ‘Red Axes’ is their first effort written and conceived of as an album-length listening experience. This work flows effortlessly through a variety of stylistic detours, highlighting their ears as both keen listeners and skilled DJs. Opener ‘They Game’ is a grooving number that unifies the psychedelia of cosmic disco with the early 90s ‘baggy’ sound. The energy mounts further with “Shelera”, a guitar-driven acidic banger, and “Sticks and Stones”, a certifiable club hit fueled by sassy vocals courtesy of Adi Bronicki. Launching Side B is “Break the Limit”, an EBM-laced number that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Razormaid compilation. The following tracks wax moodier, with “Brotherhood (Of the Misunderstanding)” touching on darkwave territory. “Udibaby” and “Arpman” close out the album with their respectively dense and sparse takes on kosmische lysergia.
Dark Entries welcomes back San Francisco based DJ and producer Sepehr Alimagham for his debut album ‘Shaytoon’. Drenched in nostalgia from his upbringing, ‘Shaytoon’ pays homage to 1970s Iranian albums that were on rotation throughout his youth. Eight tracks of twisted acid, left-of center electro, sludgy psychedelia, and things-you-can-maybe-call-techno are a few of the sonic elements found within. Regular listeners will find Sepehr’s signature perspiratory dance-floor vibe, but some songs also showcase a low-slung, cerebral approach. Sepehr’s unique sonic palette carves an interesting space in the dance music world by harnessing the spirit of his cultural ancestors. The artwork pays tribute to ‘70s Iranian pop and funk albums with bold Farsi calligraphy and portraits by Sahra Jajarmikhayat. In relation to the music, the album cover creates a dichotomy much like Throbbing Gristle’s ’20 Funk Jazz Greats’.
A segment from Passage, a party at Danny’s in Chicago curated and programmed musically by Traxx on the last Wednesday of every month. Passage focuses on the new wave/new beat era with a personal collection of music fashioned to alleviate your senses discovering different outtakes and unknown songs from far off countries.
Fear-E makes his Dark Entries debut with ‘Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place’. Fear-E is the moniker of Scott McKay a Glasgow based DJ and producer. ‘Grey Skies In A Dear Green Place’ contains six club-ready tracks to “smash sound systems and illuminate sweaty warehouses.” The title is a reference to a nickname that Glasgow has, coming from Cumbric, means ‘green hollow’ or (dear) ‘green place’. Layering cut-up vocals with warm thumping beats, Scott creates a stripped-back yet deeply jackin’ vibe.
Dark Entries Records presents ‘Fortunate Isolation’ the sophomore album from Borusiade. Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, Borusiade aka Miruna Boruzescu started dj-ing in 2002 as one of the very few female DJs in the city’s emerging alternative clubbing scene. Influenced by a classical musical education, a bachelor in film direction and fascinated by raw electronic sounds, Borusiade first combined these universes in the construction of her DJ sets and starting 2005 also in her music production. A sound of her own has slowly crystallized, often dark with poignant bass lines, obsessive themes and by all means melodic. ‘Fortunate Isolation’ is perhaps Borusiade’s most personal release to date. Eight songs that capture a bystander witnessing the world as it undergoes drastic changes. We have disconnected ourselves from ecology, humanity, preservation, care for what surrounds us, for what is still alive. Borusiade adds, “| know that this place, our home has went through so many other extinctions, but | believe things will find their own way on this planet only once we are gone. Entropy creates a time-line but also a transformation – a new beginning.” The album’s sound is gloomy and powerful mixing sonic film sequences, rhythmic excursions and soothing yet obsessive vocals that touch one’s deepest senses. Lyrically the songs tackle themes of forgotten memories, spirituality, mortality, and destruction.
Dark Entries’ first release of 2020 is a deluxe 2xLP reissue of Severed Heads’ debut 1981 album ‘Clean’. One of the longest surviving bands to emerge from the Australian post-punk independent music scene, they began in Sydney in 1979. Severed Heads is basically a nom- de-plum for Tom Ellard, who incorporates elements of ‘industrial’ noise-generation, tape cutting & looping and electronic sound synthesis. As the project developed song-structures and vocals were employed in a more-or-less recognizable mutant electro pop style. ‘Clean’ was amongst the first vinyl releases under the Dogfood Productions banner of Terse Tapes, previously a cassette-only label. For this records Tom used an array of synthesizers (Kawai 100F, Casiotone, Roland CR78+SH1+CSQ100), sequencers, tapes and occasional guitar and violin played by Garry Bradbury. Severed Heads have a language of their own, music that juxtaposes all sorts of noise, in all sorts of ways so that a structure evolves, (fragmented) melody and rhythm being almost a by-product. As one reviewer said in 1981, “It is an ugly album that you simply cannot ignore, it thuds and screeches and makes you stare just to wonder what kind of people would procure such an album.” For this deluxe reissue we’ve included a bonus disc featuring 13 songs, 5 of which have never been released before, culled from live performances, the ‘Side 3’ cassette and a ‘Clean’ demo tape that only surfaced last year, plus “Food City” missing from previous reissues. All songs have been remastered by Tom Ellard, with vinyl EQ and lacquer cutting by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley.
Yesterday we presented the preferences of our readers from last year, now this is a list of 20 albums from 2019 that made an impression on us.
We have three pure electro albums from E.R.P., Jeremiah R. and Plant43 and the new electro-synthy album of veteran David Carretta, his first solo album for ten years. On the darker side of the synth palette we have two EBM/synth-pop albums from Boy Harsher and Years Of Denial, the debut album of Kris Baha, the third album of Greek producer June, a new one from Jason Letkiewicz aka Steve Summers under his new moniker Opposing Currents and two more industrial albums from Autumns and Colombian Filmmaker.
On the other had we have two acid gems from DimDJ and Paranoid London, the first ever Gladio album, the second album from Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani and an experimental/ambient album from veteran Function on Tresor.
So, here it is compiled in chronological order.
Continue reading “20 Albums from 2019”
2019 is coming to the end so it’s that time of the year when we look back and see what caught our attention the most. As the tradition is on our side, we look first at the preferences of our readers and this is a top 3 of the most appreciated albums, compilations, mixes and other stuff.
Tel Aviv born, Berlin based duo TV.OUT make their Dark Entries debut with a 6-track EP titled ‘Dust Till Dawn’. Doron Mastey Charly & Ori Itshaki have made a name for themselves the past few years putting on impressive live sets, DJing around the world, and running Parallax Records releasing various strains of rugged, well informed electronic music.