And we’re back! Tracks: September 21st, 2011

Hola amigos! Back from Vacation, and ready to hit the ground running with tons of cool new music to chat about! I’m currently jetlagged all to hell, not to mention paying the price for a few weeks of Beijing street food, chain-smoking commie branded cigarettes at 75 cents a pack and drinking massive amounts of wicked-cheap Yanjing beer (proud sponsor of China’s lunar exploration program), so you’ll have to bear with me as I slowly get myself back up to speed. That said, we have a bunch of cool interviews in the works and some more neat features you’ll wanna check out, so thanks for keeping us on your radar during our scheduled absence! Let’s get to it!

Noisuf-X – Future Ska feat. Population
I’m not the world’s biggest Noisuf-X fan, although I do recognize dude’s production chops. His tracks always sound nice and full-bodied and really clubbable, but often times just fall into the generic techno-EBM sound Jan L. is the godfather of. That said, I’m digging this oddball Ska-EBM fusion number off the new record, horns and all. It’s a collaboration with UK skanksters Population who I assume bring the pick-it-up pick-it-up rhythm. Silly, maybe. Interesting? Certainly!

Die Rostigen Löffel – Wer schoener ist als ich, ist eh geschminkt
When we interviewed Chris Peterson a few weeks ago he mentioned he was working with these guys via the magic of the internet. This is the kind of riffy industrial metal with German vocals I can get behind, and you can certainly hear Corndog’s production touches and ear for texture. This and a few other more electronic tracks from these fellas can be downloaded from Bandcamp, with a promise of more songs as they’re completed. Have I mentioned how fortunate we all are that so many artists are giving us cool music to listen to free of charge lately?

Arzt + Pfusch – Fall of an Empire
Those hippie doctors from outer space and their weird dark electro are back! I’ve loved these guys since their fabulously sardonic Warum and Love? albums of the late 90s, so hearing that our homeboys at Complete Control Productions were putting out new material from the iconoclastic Danes was certainly welcome, if a touch unexpected. This track and “The Secret File” (also available to listen to via Bandcamp) make up a double A-side single, and will hopefully serve as a precursor to a whole new record. By the way, did you know you can download pretty much their whole discography free? No need to thank me, just spread the love.

Henric de la Cour – Dracula
Apparently this dude used to sing for Sweish new wave alt. rockers Yvonne, who some of you may recall from their run in the late 90s and early 2000s. This is a nice slice of DM-esque synthpop, and hopefully means good things for the forthcoming album on Progress Productions.
Henric de la Cour – Dracula by ProgressProductions

ID:UD Vacation/Tracks: September 6th, 2011

Well, I’m off to China tomorrow, which means that despite my earlier promises of some content to hold you over whilst myself and Bruce are out of town, the blog will be in stasis for two weeks. However, when we come back, there’ll be plenty of cool content, including some interviews with a few more of our favorite artists, a bunch of reviews of new records (some of which I’ll be listening to on the Bataan death march of a plane ride to Asia) and more of the opinionated foolishness and fanboyism we specialize in. Now, I wouldn’t be much of a blogger if I left you with absolutely nothing, but it’s been a busy week and I’m still one filthy apartment and several unpacked suitcases away from being ready, so you’ll have to settle for a few tracks from some forthcoming albums we’re excited for. Play ’em loud, enjoy ’em and we’ll be back with more in a few weeks!

Haujobb – “Little World”
This dropped this morning, just as I finished packing. Sure, the lyrics aren’t specifically about travel or movement (it seems more like one of those “inner world” type things to my sleep-deprived brain) but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound like the kind of song I’d wanna listen to while I sip a beer on the Great Wall. Could we here at ID:UD be more excited about the new Haujobb album dropping? Probably not, no, but thanks for asking.


The Present Moment – “A New Day”

TPM’s forthcoming record is another one we’re terribly excited for. This one is a lot more OMD/Ultravox-esque than Scott Milton has given us before, which is just fine IMO. Go read our interview with the man why don’t you?
The Present Moment – A New Day by 1FTP

Gary Numan – “Dead Son Rising”
We named our website after a Gary Numan song, I’m pretty sure Bruce cried after he got to see Gary Numan last year in Seattle, I Die: You Die is devoted to the man, y’knowhamsayin’? I’ve enjoyed a lot of the stuff Gary has been doing with Ade Fenton and his fingerprints seem to be on this, the title track from the soon to be released LP.
Gary Numan – Dead Sun Rising by theQuietus

Tracks: September 2, 2011

Who is the dude who gets up at 5:30 a.m., serves up hot video-conferences at work all day and then comes home to write about cool new songs for you? Me, that’s who! I mean, I suppose there could be some other guy who does it also, but certainly not with this much panache. Panache is a synonym for “cat hair on your pants”, right?

VNV Nation – “Control”
I once mentally mapped the personas of the big four thrash bands on to the big four futurepop bands, because that is the sort of thing I think about when I am hungover in the shower. Ronan and Mark were Metallica in that rubric (Apop are Megadeth, Covenant are Slayer, and Icon of Coil are Anthrax, I have a whole spiel about it, buy me a drink some time and I’ll tell it to you), because much like James and the boys, folks loved VNV so much at one point that no matter how many kinda disappointing albums they put out they’re always gonna be interested and hopeful about the new one. According to the press release, the new record Automatic is *ahem* “an Opus of Retro-futurism”, on some kind of 1939 World’s Fair steez. Is that dieselpunk? Anyways, this song is classic VNV, so if you like them and what they do, you’ll probably enjoy it (I do).

Control – from the album “Automatic” by VNV Nation

Autodafeh – “Heaven Screams”
Have you heard Autodafeh? They’re pretty great, kinda derivative of Front 242 on their previous albums (listen for the little vocal ad libs a la Richard 23) but this track is less so. It’s weird, we’ve talked about how much the Anhalt bands fuckin’ love Nitzer and D.A.F., but how many folks are doing direct homages to Jean Luc, Daniel and company? Not that many I can think of, that may just be that they’re a little more difficult to pin down to one sound to lift. Anyways, the new record from these guys Act of Faith comes out September 16th, and I’m curious to hear it.
Heaven Screams by autodafeh

Severe Illusion – “The End of Flowers”

Speaking of EBM sounds not too many people are grasping at, this track from Severe Illusion’s new double-A side digital single Clear Head on Complete Control Productions sounds like the Klinik to me, which is an easy way to get my attention. Maybe a little less woozy and atmospheric than those guys, but no less nasty. I’d listen to a whole record of this in a hot second.
Severe Illusion – The End Of Flowers by CControlProductions

Gin Devo – “Twisted Heads”
Man, it’s a great week for dark as fuck EBM. Gin Devo is the frontman for Vomito Negro, and he’s been doing this sound for a long-ass time. His solo record Errata is coming out in September, and you can hear a bunch of the tracks over at his Soundcloud page. I was super choked when I got to see him perform with VN at Kinetik but their set got cut back to like 3 songs because some other bands (who shall remain nameless) ran overtime. Maybe next year in Montreal?
Twisted Heads by GIN DEVO


Jakalope – “Witness (Sin City mix by Highjacker)”

Jakalope is Dave Ogilvie’s crossover project, and to be honest most of their stuff isn’t really to my taste. I quite like this mix Jeremy Inkel (Left Spine Down/Frontline Assembly) but together in his new electronica guise as Highjacker though, it has restrained electro and dubstep touches that sound great on a big fat system. When I spoke to Jeremy about it he confirmed that the mix was at least partially intended to be played at the fetish night of the same name I used to DJ at, which is pretty cool.
Jakalope – Witness (Sin City Mix by HiJacker) by idie:youdie

So Fragile #3: While the Cat’s Away

You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.

So, my comrade in arms is now in Germany, gettin’ ready to see a bunch of awesome bands, and some art galleries and stuff. My own trip (which is likely be significantly less musical, although if anyone knows of any Chinese industrial bands based in Beijing, let me know) is just on the horizon, but I figured I’d take this opportunity to curate one of our So Fragile mixtapes for your enjoyment. Just me and intern Tobey, chilling in my swanky downtown bachelor pad, drinkin’ beers and listening to some songs I like, then muscling them into Ableton to make a nice continuous mix for you. This one’s got some newish stuff and some songs i’ve been rocking for a minute now, and reflects a lot of what I’m playing in my earlier sets at the mighty Sanctuary lately. You can stream or download at the bottom of the post.

As always, the music in this half-hour mix is either paid for or available as a free download with the artists’ permission. ID:UD spends a lot of money on records between the two of us, and while we understand that not everyone has the cash or inclination to do what we do, we believe firmly that sending a few bucks the way of someone who made a song you like is a good way to show your appreciation.

Absolute Body Control – Talking To The Men (Amictric Mix)
Wouldn’t be I Die: You Die without some reference to Absolute Body Control. Pretty psyched that their excellent 2010 album Shattered Illusion is seeing a domestic re-release on Metropolis in October. This remix by Amictric is nice and buzzin’.

Covenant – Lightbringer (Daniel Myer remix)
Maybe it’s just because the new Haujobb is coming out soon, but I’m on a crazy Daniel Myer kick lately. Y’all probably heard the single version of this a couple times in your local club, this mix subs in Daniel’s vocals for the ones from Necro Facility’s Henrik Bäckström on the verse, which is how it was performed when we saw Covenant at Kinetik this year.

SMP – The Knife (64k mix)
This one comes from Sideline’s massive free to download compilation which I wrote about a ways back. Jason from SMP has been at it a long time, and aside from holding down the fort for the faithful in Seattle and drumming for FLA, he’s doing some awesome remix and production work under the moniker Death Proof with our boy Loud Chris from Stiff Valentine.

R.I.P. (Roppongi Inc. Project) – Temporary Evacuation 27.04.86 (Kant Kino Alternate Remix)
If all goes as planned between when I’m writing this and when you’re reading it, a review of the excellent EP this remix appears on went up yesterday. You should go read it and then download it from iTunes.

Dismantled – Disease (VF mix)
I saw Dismantled play a few months ago, which was only okay as live experiences go. This remix from the recent free-to-download Cry For Death- Vol 1 compilation from Vampire Freaks, on the other hand, is hot. It’s a lot more understated than I would expect from them, tasteful even (leaving aside the Reznor-esque over-enunciation of the word “fucking”).

[De:ad:cibel] – Too Tired to Consume
I heard this on the Electronic Body Matrix comp last year, and was just reminded of how much I dig it when it randomly came up on iTunes the other day. I guess there’s a digital EP for the song, which I’ll be downloading. Kind of an acid EBM thing, like the Pain Machinery stuff we’re big on right now.

Spetsnaz – Mangod
I will reward myself with ice cream if I can make it through writing about Spetsnaz without mentioning Nitzer Ebb. Wait, does that sentence count? Aw damn. Anyways, this comes from their 2007 album Deadpan, but is still getting some burn from me. It’s got a great bounce to it.

So Fragile #3: While the Cat’s Away

R.I.P. (Roppongi Inc. Project), “Temporary Evacuation 27.04.86”

R.I.P. (Roppongi Inc. Project)
Temporary Evacuation 27.04.86
Vendetta, 2011

Temporary Evacuation 27.04.86 faces the problem most instrumental releases that revolve around a concept do: how do you effectively convey the idea without words, relying purely on texture and mood to do the job? In most cases you don’t strictly, the concept is more of a guiding principle that informs the mood of the tracks which in turn (hopefully) evokes some aspect whatever the songs are about. Russian duo Roppongi Inc. Project are working with some material of serious gravity when it comes to the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster, and while their new release does little to sonically reflect the sorrowful aftermath of the tragedy, its tight techno-industrial sound does occasionally suggest the panic and and terror of the evacuation itself.

Temporary Evacuation a 5-song EP (and is priced to download as such despite its lengthy running time) with 8 remixes of the title track interspersed between the originals. It’s a bizarre sequencing decision as the R.I.P. originals flow together from one to the next quite well. The forboding grind of “Easy Life (White Noise)” (reminiscent of similarly soundtrack influenced recent work from Gatekeeper) leads handily into the pulsing title track, a mid-tempo dancefloor number with tight sequencing built around distressed vocal samples and a synthetic alert chime that serve as the records most direct reference to it’s subject matter. Although what they’re trying to say about the events at Chernobyl is anyone’s guess, “Birthday (Edit)” and “Destination” are both tracks that have actual movement to them, their propulsive beats pushing cleverly evolving textures. As with final track “No Future (Run mix)” these aren’t songs that stay static, they switch sequences, new sounds emerging cleverly and fading away while never losing sight of the central groove.

While not all winners, the mixed bag of remixes do bring something to the table beyond just filling out the releases’ length. The best of them is the “Alternate” mix, one of three by Kant Kino (who’s own excellent “The Owner of this House Lives Here” dealt with the same subject matter), its vocal stabs and string-like pads bringing an appropriate sense of tragic grandeur. Freakangel’s journeyman interpretation is straight terror EBM, while the Ad Inferna remix almost strays into trance, both emphasizing some of the elements of those genres R.I.P. themselves borrow from. The same could be said about the power-noise-by-way-of-gabber mix by Virgin Fix, although it’s distracting sampling of The KLF’s “3 a.m. Eternal” (which isn’t nearly as good a combination in reality as it sounds in theory) scuttles it.

Temporary Evacuation 27.04.86 ultimately works on the basis of it’s musical merits rather than by it’s connection to the heartbreaking circumstance that inspired it. Despite an imbalance in the new versus remixed material there’s a high level of production throughout, throwing the quality of it’s songs into sharp relief. Roppongi Inc. have crafted a sturdy release deserving of notice for it’s own inimitable musical appeal rather than its premise.

The Danse Society, “Change Of Skin”

The Danse Society - Change Of Skin
The Danse Society
Change Of Skin
Society Records, 2011

Well, this is just plain odd. Given that so many of their peers have reconvened in the past decade or so (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The March Violets, still waiting on you, Comsat Angels) the prospect of a new Danse Society record was pleasant if not altogether unexpected news. What couldn’t be expected was just how far removed from, well, absolutely anything the band had done previously Change Of Skin sits. To quote Wayne Campbell, it’s not just a clever name.

The Danse Society always did cleave far closer to goth’s swirlier elements than most of their post-punk brethren – they shared far more in common with Ausgang than Gang Of Four, for example – but even by the standard of the original incarnation’s most indulgent moments, Change Of Skin is gothy. Super gothy. Coffin-shaped flasks and girls with cheap silver jewelry calling themselves Akasha on newsgroups gothy. It’d be easy to pin that on the replacement of original vocalist Steve Rawlings with new singer Maethelyiah (Maethelyiah?), but according to the band most of these songs had been recorded by the time Rawlings bailed on this reunion project.

It’s not just the swapping out of Rawlings’ gulping, frantic vocals for Maethelyiah’s (seriously, Maethelyiah?) siren’s wail that make this record such a shocker. The guitars call mid-period Christian Death to mind, keyboards chug along with the bass providing the sort of slinky foundation which is darkwave’s bread and butter. Tropes from that genre abound, even working in that its frequent dalliances with trip-hop beats and lounge vibes (Collide already do a bang-up job of sounding like Collide, thank you very much). Much of the record sounds like the sort of late 90s material one might find in, say, “VTM: Bloodlines” or a Masters Of Horror episode. Fer cryin’ out loud, it even uses the old-enough-to-drink-in-England Abaddon font on the cover on a straight-up Switchblade Symphony tip!

Those actively searching for some traces of the classic Danse Society sound will be able to find a few. “Slowfire” and the guitar lead on “Homelands” sound a bit like the original model, and the drums often still roll along at a good post-punk clip when Maethelyiah’s vocals aren’t mixed front and center. Said vocals remain the showcase, however, which again is why it beggars belief that Maethelyiah only dropped in at the end of the sessions. Her vocals are powerful and well suited to the material (though she does strain things a bit on the title track and “Black Dream”) and by the standards of the territory which The Danse Society have plainly ensconced themselves within, that material is good.

I don’t want to sound as though I’m slagging Change Of Skin for being such a radical departure from the band’s previous work or for being so forthright in its gothiness, it’s just that those two topics, coupled with the overshadowing presence of a new vocalist, make me wonder if releasing this record under a different band name would have given it a better chance to be heard free of preconceptions. Let’s not be coy – bands are well aware that they’re invoking the legacy of their back catalogs in the minds of fans and critics when they reconvene under their original name. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but if that name is “chrysanthemum” you have to expect some head-scratching.

As a modern goth record, Change Of Skin is perfectly decent. As a reunion LP released under the Danse Society name, it’s utterly bizarre.

Okay, you can stop covering Joy Division now

I feel this way all the time, you don't see me defacing public property.
Guys, we know you like Joy Division. We ALL like Joy Division. They’re one of the most critically lauded bands of all time and their small but incredibly influential catalogue is still being picked apart, analyzed and mined for meaning some 30+ years since the release of Closer. Indeed, at any given moment some kid in some shitty town somewhere who feels like maybe he doesn’t belong there is discovering the succor that comes from listening to those prophets of post-industrial (the societal trend, not the music) ennui. Yes, they’re great songs, and will live forever in our hearts and souls. But dudes: STOP COVERING JOY DIVISION. It’s been done man. I’m sure it seems like a good idea, but take this into consideration:
1) You will never in any way “improve” these songs, point blank.
2) Whatever genius take you think you have on any given JD song, someone else has already probably done it. There’s been electro, gothic, fuckin’ dub reggae covers of like every song in the catalogue. The ship has sailed man, if you wanted to do it, you shoulda done it in the 80s. This especially goes for covers of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, there’s no god damn excuse for that, are you listening Apoptygma Berzerk? You might as well be covering “Yesterday” by The Beatles.
Anyways, before we nail the coffin shut here’s a selection of some Joy Division covers from our thing that I actually like. As an obsessive, I’ve heard more Joy Division covers than most music bloggers have had hot lunches, and while most are pretty lame, I’m pointing you to a few I think are pretty decent. Then can we all agree to give up on it, at least for a while? That’d be great.
Love Like Blood – Decades
Like 10 years ago now the dudes in Love Like Blood put out this record of goth covers that actually wasn’t too bad. I liked the cover of “Lucretia My Reflection” and The Mission’s “Wasteland” and this little number, which is as good as a gothic metal cover of “Decades” could ever aspire to be.

Dessau – Isolation
Dessau, now we’re talkin’! As noted by the VJ at the beginning of this clip, Uncle Al and Paul from Ministry produced this excellent version, which appeared on their criminally underappreciated self-titled album from ’95. I shoulda saved this for a 199X post, but as the best cover of “Isolation” by any industrial rock band (sorry Die Krupps) it belongs here.

In The Nursery – Love Will Tear Us Apart
Man, the dudes in ITN always, always come correct. I have nothing to say about this, except that between this and The Swans version, I never need to hear anyone else sing this. Quit it y’all.

Blood Axis – Walked in Line
Industrial neo-folk band chooses to cover the Joy Division song that most directly references Nazi stuff. What a surprise.


Left Spine Down – She’s Lost Control

Our chums in LSD come with a nice punky cover where I think they actually replicated the purported spray can cymbal trick that Joy Division used in studio. And hey, our pal Kerry from Stiff Valentine stars in the video!

Erode, “Horizon”

Erode - Horizon

Erode
Horizon
Tympanik, 2011

A few weeks back we crowed about a remix German metal guitarist and producer Alexander Dietz had done under the name of his new IDM project, Erode. While the source material of that mix, melodic death band Deadlock, is far more aggressive than Erode’s debut full-length, the driving blend of breaks and guitar on Dietz’s version still serves as a decent enough indicator of the blend of elements he’s aiming at on Horizon.

In spite of the apparent harshness of its component parts, there’s an airy looseness to much of Horizon which sets it apart from so much of the wonderfully abstract, futuristic technoid & IDM being released on Tympanik. While not specifically ambient, these tracks do offer the sort of “space to think” which Eno was thinking of when he coined the term; contrary to the grimy album art some of Horizon feels downright pastoral. There’s some similarity in spirit (if not structure) with, say, The KLF’s Chill Out or even the expansive post-rock bliss-fests of Lights Out Asia. (NB: I hadn’t even realised that LOA had done some remixing & comp tracks for Tympanik when I wrote that. Go figger.) “Approach” is a great example of this. The stuttering rhythm is familiar territory to anyone who’s even dabbled in IDM, but there’s something very sentimental and even reassuring about the synth washes which slowly yield to a simple, plaintive guitar melody.

Things do drift into somewhat samey territory by the end; you might be able to trim this release to six or seven tracks rather than nine, and a couple of the more standard IDM tracks (“Annoy”, “Wither”) don’t really bring anything new to the table. This may be a product of Dietz’s efforts to find his footing in territory well beyond the borders of his metal homeland (while that’s a bit of speculation on my part I wasn’t able to find any non-metal credits attributed to him prior to Erode), but it’s certainly no great sin. Horizon‘s a solid bit of work, and we hope that Dietz pushes forward on his journey.

Buy it.

Tracks: August 25 2011

Man, let me tell you guys something: waiting at the Chinese consulate for your Visa is fuckin’ booooooring. But it did give me time to write about some new songs I like, which is always a bonus. We here at ID:UD pride ourselves on having five articles a week, Vancouver rain or shine (probably rain). Sure half the time those posts’ll be outtakes from the manuscript Bruce is gonna send to Mick Mercer where he’s gassin’ on about some bunch of French fruitbats, or me writing 10-cent cusses about how come no one remembers Gracious Shades, but at least there’ll be a new one, Monday through Friday! Which is a nice segue into mentioning that both Bruce and I are gonna be away (me in China, him in the EU, seeing Kirlian Camera and Haujobb, that jerk) for a couple of weeks in September at which point we will be in low content mode. Stuff’ll go up while we’re gone, just not with the same frequency. What does any of that have to do with the songs you came here to read about? Pretty much nothin’! On with the show!

//Tense// – Pleasure Games (Demo)
I Die: You Die loves Houston’s //Tense//. I guess they’re nominally part of the Grave Wave/Witchhouse thing, but few bands in that murder are doing the early Cabs, Clock DVA thing these guys seem so fond of. This song is a bit less dense than some of their other jams as befits its status as a demo, and almost has a Snowy Red “Euroshima” sense of dread to it, which suits me fine. When are these guys putting out a full length?

Pleasure Games (demo) by //TENSE//

Depeche Mode – In Chains (Myer vs. Wilder remix)
This was a bonus track from the recent Depeche Mode remix collection if you bought the whole, mostly unnecessary shebang via iTunes. It’s not quite as good as the super-fuckin’ sexy Wilder remix that made the CD, but c’mon, friggin’ Daniel Myer and Alan Wilder together? It’s a musical intersection that makes total sense. If you like this, there’s actually a bunch of pretty solid Architect mixes of Recoil’s “Want” floating around that are worth checking out. Also, when they toured together Daniel busted out some live remixes of DM songs, some of which can be found on Youtube and will probably never be released in any official way.

Imperative Reaction – Siphon
Okay, admission time: I like some of Imperative’s recent stuff, but I’m one of those annoying people who really liked Eulogy for the Sick Child and kinda wishes they had stuck closer to that sound. That’s just me being a grumpy old man though (Did I ever tell you kids about Pendragon? Those were some times, boy), and should not be held against this rather nice free-to-download track from their forthcoming self-titled album. As indicated by their video for “Surface” they’re kinda doing an electro-rock thing, and that ain’t a bad look in my estimation, so long as the songs are good and catchy. And this one is!

Dryft – Clustr2
I loved Cadoo’s Dryft record from last year, which was on some serious Gridlock styles although it seems like he might be kind of sick of hearing people say that. This is a bit less so, although when that swelling pad comes a little after the two minute mark I am transported back to the summer of ’98, when the world seemed fresh and new and I could routinely be found rockin’ out to Further on my CD Walkman on the way from my parent’s house to my shitty dishwashing job. This one appears on Tympanik’s Emerging Organisms vol.4 which I heard was supposed to originally be limited to 500 physical copies with no digital download, although it appears you can get it from Bandcamp now. Good comp!

The Unquiet Grave: Die Laughing

Welcome to yet another installment of The Unquiet Grave, the column in which I pretend to be way older than I am, dish out history lessons on classic goth bands, and lament that they just don’t make ’em like they used to, dadgummit. Today’s lecture is on Nottingham’s Die Laughing, so take out some parchment and a #2 kohl pencil, and try to learn something before all that Aqua Net soaks into your scalp and rots yr brains.

The first incarnation of Die Laughing emerged in the mid 80s out of the ashes of punk band Vital Stance. Despite gigging regularly and recording several demos, this iteration of the band only ever released one song officially (“Wake”) on a compilation (Underground Resistance) which has disappeared so far down the memory hole that there isn’t even an entry for it on discogs.com. Eeep. Suffice it to say, the material from this era of the band lies beyond the reach of yr dedicated correspondent and will have to be left to the reader’s imagination.

The band split in 1988 after vocalist Alison Turner’s departure, and Die Laughing might have been completely lost to history had guitarist (and sole member of both the original and “classic” line-ups) John Berry not met up with singer Rachel Speight and decided to resurrect the name.

Die Laughing

After two demos, 1992’s Poems Of Your Life…. and 1993’s Love Amongst The Ruins (which would be publicly released on the Cage compilation in 1997), and a self released EP (Nemesis), Die Laughing finally released their proper debut, the bombastic 1995 mini-LP Glamour And Suicide. It clocks at a mere 33 minutes, but Glamour packs a wallop. While not being the most refined release, it delivers an unbeatable head-rush of elements: echoing drum machines (which might be mixed a tad loud, just sayin’), careening, enveloping guitar leads and simple but evocative synths. Things come together in a perfect maelstrom on the title track and “Harlequin”.

Die Laughing - Rachel

Throughout all of Die Laughing’s work, Rachel’s vocals would remain the central focus, and deservedly so. Although she has a formidable presence and range (and despite the bombast of Glamour), Rachel’s work with Die Laughing always seemed to communicate a sense of demure restraint, which lent itself to the band’s more graceful flourishes. Much was hinted at, without needing to be yelped out. If Anne-Marie Hurst was goth’s banshee, then Rachel was its psychopomp or will o’ the wisp, always pointing towards the inner landscape.

1996 sophomore LP Heaven In Decline offered a more textured showcase for her voice, which “Hypocrisy” and “Masquerade” from Glamour had hinted at. It’s a subtler and, for my money, far stronger LP than Glamour. It also featured some older material; a rerecording of “Nemesis”, a take on the title track from their Love Amongst The Ruins demo, and the stone-classic “Safe Little World”, which had already been released on one of Uncle Mick’s wonderfully curated Gothic Rock compilations.

1997 saw the release of the “Queen of Swords” 7″ and the The Temptress EP, which supplemented “Queen Of Swords” with some acoustic and live cuts. In 1998 Cleopatra released Incarnations, a retrospective for the US market, which does a solid enough job of covering the bases in my estimation.

That would prove to be all she wrote for Die Laughing, who split in 1999. Finding hard copies of their releases is just about impossible, especially for those of us on this side of the pond, but thankfully Heaven In Decline and Incarnations have both been released digitally. Incarnations is fine for a starting point, but I can’t recommend Heaven highly enough as a measured and sustained bit of classic goth rock.

Where are they now? John Berry’s got a new outfit, In Isolation, who are working in a bit more of an indie vein, and Rachel lends her vocal talents to the trad-goth juggernaut that is Pretentious, Moi?, whom you’ll know I can’t really shut up about once I get going.