This week’s selection of underground offerings brings us darkwave via Finland, surf-grunge from the UK and sci-fi synthwave in Italy, Getintothis’ Mike Stanton is your tour guide.
Finnish post punk/goth rockers Musta Paraati have released their first studio album in 34 years, Black Parade, through Cleopatra Records and they have lost none of their dark Nordic majesty.
Lead single, The Leader is a doom-swept journey into the eternal night as ravens stare down from skeletal branches and the sky is riven with shards of lightning. Think of that scene in Dracula when Jonathan Harker is being sped along the Borgo Pass to the eponymous castle and his imposing doom.
Lead singer Jyrki ’69’ Linnankivi‘s careful and calm, graveyard croon is scene-setting, allowing the ominous bass, guitar and drums to build into a momentous, unstoppable wave of electric energy. Textured and driving, The Leader is more than just gothic rock, it is Musta Paraati channeling the darkling spirit of coldwave and post-punk straight from the netherworld.
Pasi ‘Panda’ Nikander‘s thrumming bass is the quickening heart, Yrjö ‘Ykä’ Knuuttila‘s drums approach shamanic pulses pushing Sakari ‘Saku’ Paasiniemi‘s (they all have nicknames) guitar into the outer realms of anthemic grandeur.
Black Parade is out now on Cleopatra Records.
Ead Wood & The Heights have that pleasing retro grunge sound that sits easily in any college radio playlist and could have come straight from 1992. Oceans is quite a contrast to their first single Ignored which was all bright and jangly guitar pop. Here with their second release they explore a heavier surf-grunge; Michael Webb‘s bass thrums and twists over Ben Andrewes‘ barreling drums and Rob Fenner‘s guitar riffs wind and float, occasionally sparking and flashing.
Head boy, Ed Soles (aka Ead Wood) pulls everything into a cohesive whole with his light and airy vocals and textured rhythm guitar.
The track was apparently conceived during an attempt to make a pumpkin pie in his home in Bristol while Ed’s thoughts were “all over the place – A lot of change was going on in my life and my head was such a jumble that I kept forgetting ingredients.” The result was an “inedible, salty pumpkin pie” and a song, that perfectly captures a tumultuous time of life, was born, so all was not lost.
Oceans is out now.
Closing out Unknown Pleasures this week is some Italian synthwave. Zero Call is Andrea P, an Italian composer and live electronic performer who is clearly influenced by the likes of Justice and Röyksopp.
Having already had his music featured in video games, trailers and independent film soundtracks, Zero Call is building a reputation in an already overcrowded genre. Living Machines, lead track from his album Fears And Dreams Of Living Machines, resembles a French-electro, Italo-disco Kraftwerk with deep grooves, vocoder and Vangelis-esque synth washes. You can almost see the neon lights reflected in the rain-soaked pavements as you submerge yourself in the deepening punch bass, the clean thwap of the snares and the burbling, hypnotic euro-disco synths.
Andrea P explains the source of his inspiration, ‘Zero Call was born from the need to communicate, through electronic music, the social contradictions of the past and anxieties (with the new album) of the new century.’
Living Machines tells the story of humankind’s imminent fall into the servitude of technology, a dystopian vision of the near-future as artificial intelligence implements a global mass control project. This is the stuff of much retrowave, new wave and sci-fi electronica, but Zero Call manages to avoid too many clichés while producing an atmospheric and enjoyable ride into his data chip world.
Living Machines is from the LP Fears And Dreams Of Living Machines out now on JST Records.