Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sophe Lux: Hungry Ghost

Sophe Lux's Hungry Ghost is a two song EP that begins with a rhythmic reference to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, segues into a saucy 70's glam stop, and then ascends into the (rock) operatic heavens through creeping harmonies the likes of Switchblade Symphony and Cocteau twins. Watch the band as they prepare to record while listening to David Byrne and Brian Eno's classic collaboration, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which the Luxes list as a major inspiration.

For a more detailed review of this curious set of songs, check out my Big Takeover blog, Shadowtime.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gothic: Dark Glamour - Museum @ FIT

Goth means never having to say good morning, and so curator Valerie Steele from the Museum at FIT has made sure that it’s permanent midnight in her latest exhibit. After descending the stairs into the building’s dimly lit depths, you’ll have to take a moment to adjust before feasting your eyes upon the collection. Gothic: Dark Glamour is the first gothic fashion exhibition ever to be put on by New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, combining high fashion and street fashion from Gaultier, Galliano, and Gothic Lolita to Victorian mourning wear and post-punk finery. While not all designers featured embrace the ‘g – word’, the bleak romanticism and omnipresence of our favorite achromatic color tie all of the exquisite pieces together with sartorial success.

Free! Now through February 21.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cruel Black Dove @ Santos

Saw Cruel Black Dove last night at Santos Party House along with opener Soundscapes and headliner Mahogany. As ever, it's a pleasure to watch singer Anastasia Dimou move onstage. From languid, fluid gestures that cut through space in slow motion to staccato stances that emphasize the rhythms, her physicality morphs with the music. The band played their two killer singles, "Love Song" and "Offer" (which you can download from RCRD LBL) along with "Wasting," "Dreadful," "War Son" and an unexpected Stooges cover, "Gimme Danger." Like many, I'm sensitive to covering classics, but this was done so nicely I couldn't resist. CBD curate the cult of Curve and classic Nine Inch Nails, but always with a distinctive slither that is truly their own. And their aesthetic is never overdone, but always includes enough eye candy to attract. (Bassist Shirley Ho's patent leather Beatle boots and the band's black MacBook bookended the stage quite nicely.)
Get more Cruel Black Dove here.

(Click to enlarge)

Photos courtesy of Ms. Naomi Ramirez, in house photographer for Wierd.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mirror: Nostalgia: Dave Gahan

I recently received a promo for Mirror's upcoming release, featuring Dave Gahan. Mirror is cinematic pop from Thomas Anselmi, who has described his album as a "postmodern psychosexual cabaret." He's brought a host of others onboard, too, most notably pianist Mike Garson.
(Sweeping arpeggios from "Aladdin Sane" anyone?)
Anyways, I can't decide if Gahan's song, "Nostalgia" is sweetly seductive or just plain maudlin, but I'm still listening.
Check out the video or download the album here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Over the past week I came across three events positioned to explore the seedy recesses of Berlin history: Dances of Vice's most recent party, Visions of Weimar; a one-woman show based on the music of Kurt Weill, Lily: Her Life, His Music; and a new club night that added me on MySpace (ha), called Berlin NYC.

The crowd at D.O.V. seemed to look better than ever, which is probably because the dark cabaret aesthetic is at the stylistic core of many of the regular patrons' wardrobes.

Wren Britton, creator of jewelry/clothing line Purevile and queen of the D.O.V. vendors was there as usual selling his extraordinary wares while dressed in an extravagant take on the era's costumery.

(The codpiece is vintage, he professed).

As you can see, the outfits of the attendees really were as entertaining as the entertainment, which included some strip tease, torch songs, and cabaret acts, as one would expect given the theme.

(This lady, ever the dandy, came dressed as a moustachioed male impersonator.)

The evening left me really wanting to believe in a renewal of dark NYC nightlife. All I'm looking for are more events like these that can successfully combine historical and cultural elements with the usual sex, drugs, and RnR to make things more interesting.

The Lily show was a different experience altogether. Conceived and performed by mezzo Audrey Babcock and directed by James Marvel, the piece took Jewish prostitute-cum-nightclub performer Lily Weiss from Berlin to Paris in the 1930's and Hollywood in the 40's through the songs of Kurt Weill. The section set in Germany was my favorite, featuring a particularly moving performance by Babcock that had her bruised and battered from an abusive lover, drunk on Johnnie Walker and crooning the "Alabama Song," turning a trick atop the piano as dollar bills were violently shoved into her mouth, attempting switchblade suicide, and eventually escaping the country after Kristallnacht. Babcock sang with biting vulnerability - beaten but never beaten, beaten down. The projections (featuring images inspired by George Grosz and Otto Dix) along with the sound effects that accompanied her made the experience a electric one. A real snapshot of the period.

(And all the alcohol they used onstage was real).

Last in this triptych of Berlin-related events is a new club night in Long Island City. Not really sure why it's called what it is, but there's always plenty of German material in the Goth, Synthpop and Industrial that's usually played at parties such as these. Either way, I'll surely find out when I check out the next one...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Black Celebrations

In March of 2007 I posted an article on The Big Takeover's site debating the presence of a new dark rock 'scene' in New York City. Most of the discussion was waged via interview, and I had Peter Mavrogeorgis of the Bellmer Dolls, Josh Strawn of Blacklist and P.H. Lovecraft of the Funeral Crashers all weigh in on the issue. Now, after finishing an article on a sisterhood of ladies from four different dark NYC bands ( Religious to Damn, Tamaryn, Cruel Black Dove and Shock Cinema), I am reminded of this debate once more. At this point, I think it's best to call it what it is. When you find yourself amongst many of the same people at the same venues for certain shadow-laced shows and happenings, it's hard to call it anything but a scene.

So there, I've said it. Expect to find exclusive content here from all the bands, artists and aesthetes that I've brazenly labeled and categorized into this sprawling and exciting group. Call it Post-Post-Punk, call it New Dark City, call it really fucking good music. Whatever. Somebody was bound to claim it sooner or later...