bITS 'N CHUNKS
I detailed my first Fotocrime concert a while ago if you'd like to check that out; and I hope to go to another soon... meanwhile, as I wait patiently in my little lace gloves and my aviator shades, Fotocrime released their debut album! Check it out on Bandcamp above. On the heels of their Always Night EP featuring excellent tracks such as "Always Hell" and my favorite "Duplicate Days", looking at the cover of Principle of Pain I could sense this was going to move away from the punky moodiness of Always Night and into proper post-punk territory...
Indeed, this album is a lot darker, a bit clean, and pretty damn coldwave anchored by R's strikingly vulnerable baritone vocals sliced with Shelly Anderson's drowned siren call.
I could tell you what it sounds like if you need that -- a little mid-period Sisters of Mercy, a little Pink Turns Blue, a little Clan of Xymox. It bridges the gap between Coliseum's Anxiety's Kiss and the ridiculously danceable "Trance of Love" in a way that makes sense, which is a little frightening. But, I let myself enjoy this over a period of weekends because I was so hype for this album that I backed it on PledgeMusic. Not to brag, but I stand outside my mailbox awaiting my vinyl. Someday...
Anyway, adjectives like moody and dark get thrown about way too much in goth and post-punk because I suppose that's the point, but when I tell you the drums and bass featured here will crush your spirit and your heartache I want you to listen to "Love In a Dark Time" and believe me. I've seldom heard work so open and vulnerable to loss, longing, and pain. The guitars slink, both seductive and already burned. The gravel and clean vocals flit between hesitancy and resignation. It works. It's very evocative of the genre and maybe leans on it too much, but it works.
In the future, I'd like to see a little more of the duet action and a bit more variety in vocal melody. Unfortunately, the same or similar vocal phrasing will make songs sound a bit, well, samey. But I'm confident because I know R is capable of a lot, so hopefully we get to see him flex soon. I'm confident about the whole project and I'm glad, in this sea of synth and darkwave, to see my mode of guitar-based goth slowly dragging its way back up to the surface. Other standout tracks for me include the dark, cobweb-riddled club ready "Gods in the Dark", the rueful reminiscence of "Don't Pity the Young", and the sweet antipatriachy sounds of "Nadia (Last Year's Men)". Lift us up, break us down, and let's do it all again soon!
Since we deal in a lot of nostalgia here, I must say that I have loved AMVs since childhood.
Growing up, it was a real treat to even get to see a really well-made AMV or anime music video. You knew a lot of time and effort had gone into making them high quality and often I had to wait for my risky download to finish to watch a 3 minute clip.
Some of them even got broadcast on TV, which was so cool. Due to a lot of legal reasons, much like fanfiction, AMVs were and still are quite underground. Curiously, they don't get spread quite as much as fanfiction which makes me wonder if they're losing popularity? Or maybe it's just not worth it to anger the copyright gods for a really cool set of clips.
My old Youtube playlist of liked videos feels like a time capsule. There's so many AMVs from like ten years ago and most of them pre-date YouTube. Especially the AMV Hell compilations.
And like my love of songfics, I love AMVs so much because they thematically link an anime (or western cartoon if you're so inclined) to a song to capture a moment in the show, a feeling, to make something funny, or give fight scenes a really boss soundtrack.
Labels and the general culture of us vs poseurs taught me not to trust anyone that gives themselves an actual category. I know, that's stupid but it was a big thing back in The Day™.
Why? Because labels put you in a box and meant you were a puppet. If you voluntarily called yourself glam metal then we already knew what you were all about and there was no room for anything else. That's why to this day a lot of older goths still hiss at the "goth" label, because of what it is and what it has become. When you get tired of explaining things to people, it's easier to distance yourself.
The only people that I know of that lean head first into categorization is metal heads and punks and even that is not always a given. You can find generic headbangers anyway and most of them will definitely let you know, but there's a lot of us that hate subcategories for example. Punks are…well, punks. A lot of us don't care either.
Now, depending on how old you are you probably had to re-read that last part. Did you just refer to "us" as both punks and metalheads? Yes, there was a time when those two categories mixed like cesium and water. Labels suddenly matter a lot when you need to know what club to go to so you don't get your ass kicked.
That being said, with that kind of history it's weird to think at some point punks and metalheads would meet, agree, shake hands, and not murder each other. But it happens all the time. Goths and rockabilly stray cats met up for gothabilly or psychobilly and that's kind of weird. Apparently the meeting of minds of metal and hardcore punk was crossover.
I discovered Woven In thanks to some publicity on Fuck Yeah Black Goths. Just to prove the scene is not dead (undead, undead) I try to stay on the lookout for new dark music. I didn't really know what to think when I saw the initial incarnation of the band marked as dark surf. Like…was that some kind of ironic category that I'm too old to get?
This was only the second time I'd seen that tag and I thought maybe it's a thing people were trying to get started on the 'net. Lo and behold, beach goth/dark surf/surf goth is a real thing...kind of? I've heard surf punk but to be honest that's not really my thing. I can see this happening more organically, though. It makes a lot of sense, surf music & goth have a lot in common, namely the high guitars and thumping bass lines. In surfer music, they sound like feet pounding on wood piers to jump into the water. In goth, they sound like anxious doom. Totally the same.
I gave Woven In a few listens and I really liked their warm, ominous, melancholic version of ennui. To me they successfully made the easy-breezy sunny sounds associated with California into something painfully tense, a little distrustful, and startling. I tried to keep up with their career over the years. On their Facebook page, they announced a change in direction to something veering a little closer to goth and here we have Bossa Blanca. Please listen.
As I listened, I thought to myself this is a mature effort from an artist that is very confident and ready to go get some new legs. It's getting there, it feels transitional. It's definitely heavier on the goth overtones but it still has that beach kick. Despite moving on, Woven In's sound is so unique and such a firm blend of elements that it's pretty much emulsified. It reminds me of when auteur directors get out of their usual genre or every time Stephen King writes a non-scary book: you're still expecting some of their old ticks to crop back in, maybe because they can't help themselves.
But if this is where the group is going I'd really like to follow their dark journey along, whether it's on a dark moonlight beach or back on land.
This is another one of those times where it pays to know people. Please check out Jowin's Bandcamp.
When the visuals for Kids Food started hitting the YouTubes I was really interested in the project. I ended up buying it on iTunes so I could listen to it on my own time. The videos were cool and well done and the whole thing had a neat concept behind it -- it mimics the structure of an anime or, to me, specifically an OVA. OVAs are usually short (although there are OVAs that are basically complete anime series), experimental, and have a definite beginning and definite end. Now whether you agree with that ending is another matter…
Anyway, I remember OVAs (along with fansubs and v-kei) being a big part of my Otaku childhood. OVAs were like the director's cut of your favorite animation or bonus features and often the only way to see things truly uncensored and Straight From Japan. They were also rare and kind of costly, and there's nothing us oldtaku love more than something hard to get and costs a bleepton of money.
Me and Jowin are around the same age-ish so I don't feel like that speculation is too out there. Now, I wouldn’t pigeonhole Jowin as a geek rapper. Yeah, he references games & the '90s and he has that nerd aesthetic but I feel like those are more attributes more than his defining characteristics. It's like a heads up to say "this dude is one of us".
That being said, back to OVA structure and why this EP is pretty much perfect and inspiring. The structure of it is so solid and neat -- the opening track, "Cross 1Ne", sounds exactly like an anime OP (opening theme) and lays out pretty much what this is going to be about. The two middle songs, "There4U" and "Time (Jeff's Dilemma)" function as plot and give us more information about the character (either Jowin himself or a representation of himself, think it's up for interpretation), his fears, insecurities, his lifestyle and changes his making to better himself; it hits an emotional climax and ends on a note of hope and optimism. Then the final track, "Can We", is the ED or ending theme. Ending themes in anime can be cryptic sometimes but they basically wrap up the plot of that episode and sometimes foreshadow the series conclusion. In this case, "Can We" pretty much sums up the plot and carries out that note of optimism while alluding back to "Cross 1Ne" lyrically and melodically.
I have been thinking about this a lot as I look over some of my older narratives. I realized I've been dissatisfied with my own structure and the editing process has been frustrating for a while. I started favoring more "experimental" story telling styles a few years ago because that's what I was reading and listening to. I felt like I had to and so I gave myself permission to do it. But to be honest with you I don't know if it's been that good to me. I think that's one of those things you either just do naturally or later in life when you don't give a damn. I love reading an unconventional narrative with an ending, beginning, and a middle but I'm still at that point where nothing is more satisfying to me than a definite beginning, maybe a hazy middle, and an end. I remembered that was the fiction I enjoyed writing. If Jowin presents what is a perfectly structured narrative for me then I've been on some …And Justice for All isht, where I have a general theme but told through unconnected episodes. That's fine too but it just doesn’t work all the time. Seriously, this is ridiculous for an EP that is like…less than 15 minutes. I've spent my whole life trying to achieve that kind of structure in my fiction. Are you kidding me?
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...