Monday, August 13, 2012

New Law Nightmare: S/T EP

New Law Nightmare was a project from the late 80s fronted by a guy named Rik Savering. The act is probably most notable for having two great darkwave songs on a couple of the excellent Grindstone Compilations (um... re-upload to come soon, I suppose). There is almost no mention whatsoever of this 1988 EP, aside from some store that has a copy for sale on a couple online sites. This has completely escaped notice from pretty much everyone. Now, we can’t let that continue, can we? 
                When I found this in a local store recently, I was immediately grabbed by the somber dark “touching pop” style of the first song, Witch Trial. With some truly remarkable synth lines and perfectly emotive vocals, it’s a wonderful song. Other songs mix a bit more guitar into the sound – in some cases I’d prefer the songs without it. “Upper ten”, for example, is a great dark synthpop song, but the short guitar solos stand out a bit too much, especially since they are so loud in the mix. Even so, the guitar-heavy songs aren’t bad… it’s just that the instrument is more prominent than necessary and stands in sharp contrast to the melancholic synthpop with which it’s paired.
Fortunately, the formula does work wonders on the final song, “Only As”, with an unstoppable beat and synth line, and whose shrieks and wails of guitar actually work to enhance the track. Overall, this is a good EP with a couple excellent tracks, and several valiant attempts that just didn’t quite get the right balance of sounds. I’d be interested to hear if he released anything else under this moniker – hopefully more songs on the caliber of Witch Trial are waiting to be discovered.

New Law Nightmare: S/T EP
1988, Vuv Records
A1 Witch Trial
A2 Upper Ten
A3 Say
B1 Déjà vu
B2 Fifteen Shadows

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Gallery: S/T LP

The Gallery were a Belgian band whose generic name has rendered them pretty much impossible to search for on the web. I don’t believe this has been shared or blogged about before, but who knows… I have found out that, quite confusingly, the band’s guitarist/keyboardist /producer Stephan Kraemer was in another unrelated band called Gallery in the early 80s. However, he is probably best known for his work as the guitarist/drummer of Zwischenfall. That group’s style of dark synthpop focused more on noisy but danceable electronics; The Gallery balance their synth use with more guitars. In this five-piece darkwave group, Kraemer worked with vocalist Iben Larssen and bassist Thomas Kuersten , both of whom worked with him on a few Zwischenfall songs (Iben Larssen provided the vocals to the 1984 English version of Flucht and Sandy Eyes), as well as contributing to tracks by Snowy Red and A Split Second. Keyboardist Nicolas Mansy later went to record with the short-lived alt/synth group Wasteland .
With such bona fides, the band has a lot to live up to and while the LP is a bit uneven at times, for the most part they do not disappoint. The vocals are usually haunting, with plenty of reverb and atmosphere. They suffer a bit on a few early songs when the band treads into more alt-rock territory replete with strained, yelled lyrics. Fortunately not too many songs take this stylistic deviation, and the best songs are reserved for the second side. The closing song, Nuthouse, is a midtempo track whose gloomy, beautiful chorus almost comes as a surprise. Crime Time is a full-force darkwave track that would sound perfect in any goth club set between Skeletal Family and The Veil. My favorite track on the album is the slow, stark “The Warning”, a vaguely Cocteau Twins affair which starts with sparse bass and drums before they’re followed up with cold synth chimes that sound like they’re channeling The Exorcist.

 The Gallery, S/T LP
1989, 150 BPM Records
Your Skin
 Better Days
Ballad of a Suburban Night
Fade Away
 The Warning
Crime Time

  Click here to listen!