REVIEW: Various Artists - "Darkness and the Machine Volume II"

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

Darkness and the Machine Volume IIWith the dog days of summer behind us, now is the time to start focusing on finding and obtaining great music to get you through autumn. 1999 seemed to be the year for underground compilation discs of every shape and size that were on the "must have" shopping lists of countless fans. Luckily, many that were released were worthy of our hard-earned dollars, however some were so exceptional that special mention must be made in an effort that they don't get lost in the shuffle of the back to school search for great music.

One such disc is Carpe Mortem's Darkness in the Machine Volume II*, which was released with minimal fan fare and hyperbole among the plethora of selections we had access to. Oddly, it became a word of mouth CD that only those who were "in the know" actually seemed to talk about.

The disc reads like a who's who in the underground as well as showcases some of the best, fast rising stars of the goth/industrial world. Ms. Palfalvi is to be congratulated for producing a follow up compilation that will withstand the test of time and also one that is at least equal to, if not exceeding, the quality of the first one. Even though some of the names are familiar they are not the same rehashed songs you seem to get on every compilation. Some companies tend to utilize the music of a very limited number of well known bands, often forgetting that overkill will ultimately wear down the desire to hear a particular band, much less create an urge to purchase the full CDs after a point.

Contact Information - Carpe Mortem Records:
Post: Carpe Mortem Records, 400 Bagley Ave. Suite 1995, Detroit, MI, 48226
E-mail: records@carpemortem.com
Web: http://www.carpemortem.com

Attrition's contribution with Atomizer stunningly opens the disc with a vibrant and percolating dance track that is hard to resist. There are overtones of the ominous between the dance beats along with a verbal sampling from an alleged "spiritual" person. Martin Bowes and company really know how to make a dance floor scream with excitement with their music. Be on the lookout for Attrition's U.S. tour starting Sept. 20, 2000**.

Contact Information - Attrition:
Web: http://www.attrition.co.uk/

Oneiroid Psychosis takes us back to our darkened roots by initiating a song that sounds like a mechanized futuristic hell in which the radio frequencies are jammed. October proceeds in harpsichord like fashion to develop and set the tone to add a sense of macabre. If you also want some really macabre sounding music for Halloween parties or for the whole year, check out this band's other work!

Contact Information - Oneroid Psychosis:
Web: http://www.globaldialog.com/~psylabs/enter

Detonation is a song that one will want to play repeatedly. It is constructed with all the correct percussion and bounce essential to make a classic Goth rock dance song. The intro remains morbidly atmospheric in an ethereal way and then pummels into overdrive for a highly irresistible song.

Contact Information - Shadow To Ashes:
Web: http://www.bleakhaus.com

Gossamer has always been high on my list of bands one must have in their collection. Sweetest Misery factoid for fans is that Chris Gray penned this for his fianc'e some time ago. With artistic foresight, this song was constructed to sound like it was coming from an old transistor radio with the intro and then segued into the full body of the song. Gray is a master of creating an air of lush, darkly erotic vocals that wrap around each lyric in multifaceted seductive ways. Gossamer is one of the latest signed bands to the Carpe Mortem label, so keep an eye out for their first CD release, Closure, that should be out any day now.

Contact Information - Gossamer:
Web: http://www.idrecords.com/gossamer/

Mindless Faith continue to add to the macabre machinery with their dark brand of room stomping industrial grooves with All These Years. Stylistically, this band is in the same company as DeLien or SMP.

Contact Information - Mindless Faith:
Web: http://www.Geocities.com/Hollywood/4257/Mindless Faith.html

Morphine Angel add guitar driven edginess to the industrial mix of Dancer while interspersing melodic almost ethereal atmospheric tones underneath. Some vocal reminiscence to Eldrich and Bowie are evident without being cliché.

Contact Information - Morphine Angel:
Web: http:// www.morphineangel.com

Horror Inside by Ceoxime made a stouthearted attempt with their cut, but somehow fell just short of the mark. The vocals and the music seemed to be too disjointed and would have worked with a bit more studio mix down.

Contact Information - Ceoxime:
Web: http://members.tripod.com/hEADaQUE/ceoxime/

Unquiet Void provided an exclusive track that will surely delight many fans. Spirit coalesces with a harmonic blending of the darkness and the light, not unlike the perception of spirit for many. Once the listener is lulled for a bit, it picks up the pace with a bit more percussion, indicating a sense of transition and then winds down once again.

Contact Information - Unquiet Void:
Web: http://come.to/TheUnquiet

The Azoic have veered away from the usual frightening darkwave that we have come to love and ventured into the dark industrial realm with The Distance. Nuances of this band's trademark spookiness weave around electronic percussive beats that are tantalizing. The Azoic have managed to make a transition with their sound without disappointing their earlier fans while permitting them to garner new fans who enjoy a bit more of a dance edge. Like Oneiroid Psychosis, The Azoic's early work can be quite chilling. If you want that type of atmosphere for Halloween or all year round, be sure to look into their earlier work as well! It should be emphasized that Kristy, vocalist for the band, maintains a great rapport and contact with the band's fan base. No matter how busy she is, she always finds a moment or two to thank fans who write or purchase their music.

Contact Information - The Azoic:
Web: http://www.nilaihah.com

Stare offered St. Michael's Litany for this compilation, and I will go on record to say that the band has managed to show me how to insert my foot in my mouth. Initial pre-production of Stare's work was not exactly to my liking, however Gary Thrasher and company heard the potential while I was only hearing the end results. Since I am willing to admit when I am wrong, Mr. Thrasher and company can say, "told you so!" I am floored with the achievement and growth he was seeking from the outset and will own up to agreeing that this vocalist is the only one for his music. This is why Thrasher and company are the artists and I the mere consumer/listener/reviewer. Stare is another band that is about to release a full CD on the Carpe Mortem label entitled Haunted that should be out any day now, which I anxiously await.

Contact Information - Stare:
Web: http://home.columbus.rr.com/stare/

Ickytrip takes us from the reverie of the preceding song to filtrate more industrial percussive beats. With the exception of a few words that rise from the abyss, like a nightmarish teleprompter, the song is mainly generated by dark dance orchestration.

Contact Information - Ickytrip:
Web: http://www.lowlife.com/bands/Ickytrip

Dragon Tears Descending follows with a remix of Wither that has an early batcave goth feel to it. Vocally, a bit more passion could have been utilized to create this song, however the musical delivery is so on the edge that one can forgive this slight flaw.

Contact Information - Dragon Tears Descending:
Web: http://www.dragontearsdescending.com

Babylonian Tiles opened this track with macabre organ music providing a horror house element. Extended Holiday took every known sound familiar to goths and reworked them into an exquisitely delightful song. No vocals were on this track, and somehow they were not needed in the least. It is an absolutely perfect tune for those really into atmospheric and morbid sounds.

Contact Information - Babylonian Tiles:
Web: http://www.babylonian-tiles.com

DeLien practically created the darkness in the machine as a genre along with SMP and a few other select bands. Quantum Foam manages to sound, foamy, in a very odd, futuristic and distorted way. If you combined the atmosphere of the movie The Terminator, added the vocals of Devo, stirred in a healthy dose of artist Jackson Pollack, you may have some idea of the brilliance of this group.

Contact Information - DeLien:
Web: http://www.delien.com

The New York Room leaves us on a more darkly ethereal note to help us wind down from some of the floor pounding from the previous tracks. The Thistle In The Kiss actually reminded me of a cross between Soft Cell and Lydia Lunch.

Contact Information - The New York Room:
Web: http://www.iserv.net/~nyroom/

Carpe Mortem delivered the goods so to speak. The compilation was expertly sequenced so that the flow was never lost. Even with the couple of tracks that were not as exceptional as the others, they too moved the disc along rather well.

The theme of machinery as part of a dark, pervasive Necropolis never wavered. On one level it was similar to a soundtrack of a bleak and barren technological hell that is in perpetual darkness. The movie Terminator comes to mind again, where we witnessed images of a world on the apocalyptic brink of technological annihilation. It is "that" feel that subliminally came across throughout. The dance style cuts and the more atmospheric songs supported each other almost flawlessly. With the outstanding work the company has done thus far, further Carpe Mortem compilations and releases can only be anticipated with much excitement.

* And another was Nailaihah/Arts Industria's Resistor compilation, reviewed in Legends 101 [Ed.].

** And be sure to check out the 9/25/2000 show if IPM Radio. While by the time this prints it's already happened, you can check out Attrition in the IPM studio with Mac, ChrisZ, Kelly, Sex & Violence with live interview questions from Legends Magazine among others. http://www.gothicindustrial.com

Buy The Album
Buy Darkness and the Machine Volume II

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