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Goth

Lunar Paths dissected the creativity and compassionate consciousness of their darkwave post-punk debut EP, Fuse, in an A&R Factory interview

As the anticipation for Lunar Path’s debut EP was kicking in, A&R Factory caught up with the internationally scattered duo to discuss their poetic and philosophical lyrical themes and take on creativity in the digital age as we tried to contain our excitement that bubbled around speaking to the former members of the iconic UK acts, Cold Dance and Skeletal Family. 

Fuse is now available to stream across all major platforms. Delve in after reading the story of its conception.

Lunar Paths, welcome back to A&R Factory; we loved getting stuck into the dark ethereal alchemy in your single, Rise; does it set the tone of what is to come via your debut EP?

We were so thrilled with your review of Rise. Thank you! “Lunar Paths made the Bela Lugosi’s Dead of this era with Rise.” I mean, WOW. That blew us away! Rise is one of the five tracks on the EP, Fuse, but does it set the tone? Well, the release of the EP marks the occasion of Lunar Paths’ first birthday, and frankly, we are still in the process of discovering who we are and what our tone is! For sure, all of the tracks hang together really well; they are all driven by the percussion, they all have a fairly atypical song structure and mysterious vocal, and they all use an eclectic array of unusual instruments and distorted samples, so you could say that, with its rolling beat, haunting vocal, gamelan and warped Cretan lyra, Rise is fairly representative of what we do.  Two of the tracks on the EP have a faster tempo, and one of these is even a little bit playful, but we do seem to be leaning towards an enigmatic, ethereal, and evocative, atmospheric sound.

Releasing music in 2022 as opposed to when you were together making music in the 80s in the bands Cold Dance and Skeletal Family must be a vastly different experience – before you even consider the distance between your bases in America and Europe. How does it feel to be creatively reunited in the digital age of music?

It’s absolutely wonderful! We have said so many times how, if, back in the day, we had had the digital and virtual gear that we have at our disposal now, we could have done such a lot to realise our musical aspirations, both in terms of recording and playing live. We were early adopters of electronic drums, drum machines and sequencers, and they always created a bit of a stir onstage, but back then, the only bands that could afford the really cutting-edge digital technology had serious financial backing.

Similarly, recording and releasing on vinyl was such a big deal, in terms of time, effort and expense. Planning things to the minute so that you didn’t waste valuable time in the recording studio, there was much less room for experimentation, and it allowed for just a tiny margin of error. Now, it’s possible to take massive creative risks, take your time and really play around with ideas—and, of course, if you want a gamelan, you don’t have to travel all the way to Indonesia! The idea, too, of making videos to accompany and promote the music was beyond the wildest dreams of most bands back then, but now, thanks to platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, it’s something that is within the grasp of pretty much anyone with a smartphone.

The synergy between you is palpable for sure. How would you say you bring the best out in each other creatively?

I don’t think that we have ever responded to each other’s ideas in any way other than positively. That’s not because we are easily pleased, either! We are both incredibly driven, both perfectionists and we each set ourselves very high standards. It helps that we have always been on the same wavelength: though we were not necessarily tuned into the exact same stuff, we are always receptive to new and exciting material.

Chatting to each other for the first time in decades about music, it was astounding to discover how many bands we had developed a common liking for over our years apart. There were also equally large areas of music and culture that remained a complete mystery to one of us while the other had discovered, explored and completely fallen in love with it—but none of it was ever boring. I think that the most important thing is that we are both still very curious, open, receptive and adventurous, when it comes to what we make and what we consume. Because we are so much on the same page, and also so very open to new ideas, working together feels easy.

We never have to explain anything to each other or have lengthy debates about what should happen in a track; one of us brings something to the table, and it’s immediately obvious to the other one why it’s a great idea. Trust plays a huge part in what we do. We are never afraid to share our ideas with each other, plus, because of this mutual trust that we have, we can simply go with an idea, see where it leads us, and it is usually one that works.

What were the biggest challenges of creating music in different continents and different time zones?

Getting some sleep! When one of us is ready to chat, it’s usually four in the morning for the other one, but it’s just all too exciting and too much fun to resist having really lengthy conversations, regardless of the time of day. When you have this compulsion to make music, and you find someone who you so totally gel with creatively, being a bit sleep deprived the next day is such a small price to pay.

Being on different continents wasn’t that big a deal either, as I think a lot of us learned during the pandemic how working together remotely was actually more than possible. At first, we were concerned that, without a shared access to the same DAW, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate at all, but we quickly found ways around that. Wave files fly across the Atlantic at the speed of light, they get imported into a project, the project gets pinged back across the Atlantic, and so on. Finding solutions to the challenges just added to the fun and to the sense of achievement.

Have your music influences stayed the same, or are there contemporary darkwave outfits fuelling your inspiration lately?

Not just darkwave, and not just contemporary; we like a huge amount of wildly disparate stuff, across a range of genres, encompassing music being made today to music dating back hundreds of years. To give you an idea, we like: Avalanches, KLF, Dengue Dengue Dengue, The Creatures, Gang of Four, Boards of Canada, Pixies, Bjork, Killing Joke, Alessandro Striggio, Ministry, First Nation music, Joy Division, Yard Act, Roza Eskenazi, Idles, Skinny Puppy, The Veldt, Portishead, Bob Vylan, Radiohead, Underworld, Sun’s Signature, Chemical Brothers, The Streets, tAngerinecAt, Legendary Pink Dots, Coil, Basil Kirchin, Fred again.., Marxman, Earthlings, She Wants Revenge, Young Gods, NuKreative, The Soft Moon… and that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. We could go on!

What lyrical themes are explored in the EP?

The name of the EP, Fuse, echoes what Lunar Paths do, bringing different elements together and uniting them, and it also evokes something that triggers an explosion or reaction. It also suggests being driven by an unstoppable and mysterious energy, as in “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” from the poem by Dylan Thomas.

Our lyrical themes are diverse overall, but some of the songs on this EP are political—Lunar Paths lean to the left—so Rise evokes a weary person dragging themselves to work every day, self-medicating every night, and asks how long they are prepared to put up with lousy pay and conditions. Dérive was inspired by the writings of the Situationists, who suggested that, instead of going shopping or going to work, setting out on long, purposeless walks through the city that you live in could be a subversive act, especially if you keep your eyes open and think about all that you see.

Alttahilili means ‘lullaby’, and it was the result of seeing harrowing pictures of refugee families shivering in the snow and from the idea that, wherever we come from, we all sing to our children to comfort them. MetaGoth#1 has hardly any lyrics at all, apart from a clip from a 1980s film about the evils of capitalism, along with a Siouxsie-ish refrain, all parts of the song being a playful nod to our post-punk roots. Lo Oa Soa was the result of an experiment to see what would happen if we wrote a fairly conventional song, then learned to sing it backwards! When we discovered that Lo Oa Soa actually means ‘you are dead’ in Sesotho, it appealed to the old goth in us! On every occasion, the music precedes the lyrics. So, for example, the drums in what eventually became Dérive sounded very urban, full of clashing trashcans and gunshots, so we knew that it was going to be about cities. The circling drone of Rise evoked a sense of weary, repeated activity, like a vicious circle, and Alttahilili sounds like the wind on a bitterly cold winter night. MetaGoth#1 is full of sounds from and after the post-punk era, and Lo Oa Soa sounds like a crazy, exciting journey into the unknown.

What’s next for Lunar Paths?

When we started this venture, all that we wanted was to make some music and have people hear it. That’s already happening, but we’d like to make more music and get heard by more people. We’ve been on SoundCloud for several months, where we recently got just under 20,000 streams of our latest track, Shine, and this inspired us to sign up to Distrokid, in the hope that being across all the major streaming platforms will help grow our audience and get us more airplay.

Our immediate plans are to release the rest of our back catalogue, together with some new songs, in the form of another EP in 2023. We both miss live performance, so a live stream could be fun to try. We’ve even talked wistfully about touring, and, though the vast geographical distance between us makes rehearsing tricky (to say the least!), it’s not beyond the realm of the possible. Nothing is. Did either of us ever think, this time last year, that we would be chatting to A&R Factory about our debut EP? Never say never!

Stream Lunar Paths on Spotify, check out their website and connect with them via Instagram and Facebook.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Lethia’s Natorium has made her baroque goth rock debut with ‘Lullaby’

‘Lullaby’ is the debut single from the singer-songwriter Lethia’s Natorium (Pena Hughes-John), who has adopted many guises in her career as a steampunk-inclined artist. Under her new moniker, she’s embracing her inner goth edge, and notably, she’s in perfect tune with the dramatic flair of it.

She’s thrown away her faithful ukulele for arresting symphonic orchestral scores, leaden with cutting classical strings and tempestuously off-kilter production. Now that Emilie Autumn isn’t as prolific as she used to be, Lethia’s Natorium has exactly what it takes to fill those baroque boots.

Lullaby was just a teaser of what is to come in Lethia’s Natorium’s debut album, which is currently in production. It is now available to stream via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Staytus drops ear-shaking new release to give you a swift shudder on, ‘Dreams from Hell’

With her edgy debut 13-track album ‘Disease of The Mind‘ due for release in Spring this year and slated to broaden our minds, Staytus cuts a massive hole through the fragile walls of her next-door neighbour on ‘Dreams from Hell‘.

25-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona local Sam Grundemann aka Staytus is an alternative industrial goth composer, trans gamer, songwriter, musician, vocalist, writer, audio engineer, and music producer.

As an Avid Certified Pro Tools Operator of Music and Postproduction with college degrees in art, audio production and sound design, Staytus is a master at crafting soundscapes that are expansive, loud, and modern.” ~ Staytus

Passionately singing about hugely relevant topics such as bitter heartbreak, traumatic despair, lonely resentment, and reality slipping away in this whirlwind world that can suck away all of your goodness in a split second, Staytus unleashes something for the underground to claw into here. Her vocals are hauntingly raw and with meaning, on a self-produced beat that has your bleeding ears shaking in alarm.

Dreams from Hell‘ from Scottsdale, Arizona-based industrial goth artist and music producer/audio wizard Staytus, is a statement single from a famished young woman who has decided to be the navigator of her own destiny. Lacerating through all doubts with her determined mindset and a clear talent for the production side, this is a terrorizing track that you will either love or be afraid of. That is just the way that it was intended after all, from an artist who is only just beginning this new journey.

Hear this heavy new single on Spotify and check out her IG music page for more.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Don’t You Cry: Dresden darkwave act Ghosts Over Dresden drop first single ‘My Dark Angel’

With striking energy that might shock many into having nightmares, Ghosts Over Dresden sends us a blood-soaked love story that could stain your teeth with the debut single called ‘My Dark Angel‘.

Ghosts Over Dresden is a darkwave/goth band from Dresden, Germany who let flow with a release that will have you looking deeply into this intriguing effort.

Emerging in an era in which quite literally every music scene in every city in the world was dying at the hands of a deadly virus, Ghosts Over Dresden (G.O.D) rose from the still smoking ashes to bring a new brand of darkwave in a desperate time. Creating songs that brood and shimmer as well as tracks with hooks for days, G.O.D. is calling hungry audiences to the altar for the resurrection of dark pop.” ~ Ghosts Over Dresden

With a moody ambience that tells us the story about a passionate love that is highly intense and packed full of that romance that sends shivers down your spine, Ghosts Over Dresden takes us into a new world that will either excite you or scare you into pieces.

My Dark Angel‘ from the Dresden, Germany-based indie darkwave act Ghosts Over Dresden, is a thrilling effort that might belong in a horror movie. The painted face aura has your thoughts gusting back to Halloween, and this is a track that will take you into the darkest part of a liaison that is packed full of devotion that it might cause either one of you to break in half.

For all the fans of this mysteriously created genre – you have found yourself a new underground hero – who make that soul-shocking experience that will have you peeking around nervously when the lights are out.

Hear this haunting new single on Spotify and see what they get up to on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Pan!c Pete delivers absorbing discord in his latest industrial hip hop track, Metallic Taste.

Any fans of Bob Vylan and Saul Williams will want to cut their teeth on Pan!c Pete’s electro-industrial hip hop sonic palette through his latest instrumental mix, Metallic Taste.

With gothy darkwave synth-carved melodies bringing bright polyphonic texture to the harsh and caustic bass lines and solid rattle of glitchy beats, Metallic Taste is an energetically dystopic track like no other. You’re left hooked right the way through the indulgently caustic single; it’s impossible not to be left absorbed by the discord in the fiery release.

We can’t wait to hear what Pan!c Pete serves up from the deep end of the south next.

Metallic Taste is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Dead Writers delivered an instant post-punk classic in their latest single, Among Spirits.

Staying true to their moniker, Dead Writers delivered poetry that scarcely feels of this century in their latest single, Among Spirits. If Oscar Wilde himself resurrected to write post-punk lyrics, they wouldn’t be as up to scratch as the arresting lexicon in this cutting track.

Right from the intro, the cavernous guitar notes hook you into the emotionally layered single that alchemically fuses melancholy with defiant bursts of energy that emulates the kind of euphoria that only those who have fought for it can truly understand.

When the chorus hits, Dead Writers prove that they have the rare ability to make morosity anthemic, and things get even sweeter in the instrumental interlude. Against the bitter-sweet piano melody, the guitars start to blazon the track with virtuosic rock n roll licks that feed Manic Street Preachers-Esque nuances into the mix.

Paradoxically, the vocals contain their suave indie-rock poise throughout the switch-ups between the evocative dark timbre that will be a hit with any fans of the Cure and the strident rock vocals that could easily fill a stadium. By all accounts, the London-based debonair powerhouse delivered an instant post-punk classic with Among Spirits.

The official video will premiere on October 29th; you can check it out for yourselves via YouTube.

Artist Links: Website, Facebook, Instagram. 

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Alien Al and the Juperoids welcome you to the future of dystopic pop with their standout single, Alice.

After a successful debut with their single, Probe, the electronic space rock outfit Alien Al and the Juperoids, fronted by actor and singer Alyx Nazir, have released their ground-breaking self-titled debut album.

The perfect introduction to their conceptual, expressionist style is the pop track, Alice, which starts with the same arresting atmosphere of existential sci-fi films that welcome you into cold dystopic futures. Through the eerie progressions, the single picks up some more archetypal pop tendencies along the way before a frenetic rock outro. In the strangest and most beautiful way, Alien Al and the Juperoids prove the value and warmth of music in our embittered world through Alice.

The debut album from Alien Al is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

West Wickhams – Where the Creatures Rule: Horror Noir Has a New Sound

There’s no better introduction to the Psychedelically-inclined Dark Punk duo, West Wickhams’ sound than the horror noir single ‘Where the Creatures Rule’.

The entrancingly dark single will undoubtedly enthral any fans of Bauhaus, while the accompanying music video pays ode to one of the greatest horror films ever made, Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’, obviously.

I can’t help but feel that Where the Creatures Rule has very ‘2020’ connotations. As the artistically inclined creatively document the movements of the masses, the populous prove that Romero’s anxiety about unrest and wariness in the 60s was spot on.

You can check out the official video to Where the Creatures Rule via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

A real story about current confusion: Alutepena Hughes-John brings her uniquely talented music to help with the current UK ‘Lockdown’

The driving drums drop in so sweetly, as we are introduced to an authentic voice that breathes new life into the dull year of stale air, and dark clouds. This is all about the trauma about the ravaging bite that is 2020 and the rhythmically energy brought forth, is a pleasant listen from Alutepena Hughes-John. The Surrey, UK based performer speeds into the wild waters with the relevant ‘Lockdown‘.

Her voice is so smooth and authentic, her various styles and bands in her armor mesh with much enthusiasm here, this is a performer with so much to offer our sad hearts. The frustration of how the UK lockdown has been handled is so apparent, the confusion and poor management is described vividly, the shocking levels of sadness of the people is for all to see. The end is not in sight, and seeing other countries open up again, gives even more ammo to the weary-eyes souls of the once-proud nation.

With a vibrant energy that shines through the gloomy skies, the new single makes you smile as stories of sacrifice and not knowing what is right to do, and what is not. The vocals swim through the rock-filled waves with aplomb, her words are so hauntingly honest, and will make you feel better about things as you aren’t alone.

With her music style changing all the time from Steampunk to Goth dependent on her mood, the wildly talented Alutepena Hughes-John shows us all that creativity is alive and strong on ‘Lockdown‘. The citizens of the UK will just have to be a bit more patient for a while until the rain has passed, for this is a time that has shown who the great leaders are, and who are the ones that need to sit down, and leave big decisions to wiser souls.

Hear this supremely real song on her Soundcloud and see more on Instagram.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Retro-gothwave banger with ‘Nightwaves’ from Grimdeluxe

This is a new retro-gothwave banger with ‘Nightwaves‘ from Grimdeluxe as this transcends the airwaves here in 2020.

You can’t see right now as your vision is a bit blurred and you are struggling. You are trying to open your eyes but its so hard currently. The music is leading you in the right direction and it will be interesting to see if you can see the light or will everything drag you down. The night can be a scary time but you are excited for this challenge as you begin to see where to go in life.

This is a song that has an old school 80’s feel. The synths are quite electric here, the whole energy brews as the song levels up into your ears. The vocals are strong and calming, you feel at ease and just want to dance all night. This is the perfect song for a Friday night as you get into the weekend vibe.

Nightwaves‘ from Grimdeluxe is the brooding and smokey song that lifts into the speakers slowly. The burner is a track to enjoy with friends.

Head through for the Soundcloud page.

Click here for the Facebook page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen