Words by Peter Tanski
Peter Tanski grew up in the small but thriving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, fronting several bands and founding the music and literary fanzine, Exmortus. After a brief stint living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and writing for Legends Magazine, he returned to Pennsylvania where he began to work with web based music site NEPA Rocks. He currently fronts the melodic hardcore/punk band, Heart Out and hosts The Book of Very Very Bad Things PodZine.
“When in doubt, think about ghosts.” – David Lynch
As I put pen to paper in the name of bleak pop for this month’s column, my thoughts revolve around my little boy. A precocious and daring child, he has already been reading with a capability beyond his years for better than 12 months. His perspective captivates me. We are, after all, in the “monster in the closet, ghost under my bed” phase. My son is so like me when I was his age. He carries fears apropos to his maturity level, yet he is also tempted to peek under the sheet at what horrors must lie beneath the ossuary shroud.
All Hallows Eve, the Christianized, Western approximation of the Gaelic Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The thin yet defined veil that separates the dimension of the corporeal from that of the ethereal thins to a gauzy, threadbare membrane, and the most willful of spirits push through the barrier and join our ranks among the flesh bound souls. We celebrate this by tricking those beings into believing that we are one of them, giving offerings to the costumed and the corrupt… and watching our favorite creepy films. This season has ever been nearest to my heart. And it seems to have been passed to my progeny.
As he, my wife, and I attend the seasonal, celebratory trunk or treats and haunted attractions, that which is meant to startle and terrify seems to morbidly fascinate him. The spook and specter carnival, the Grande Guignol, the thrill of the unknown, these are his playthings in the most innocent manner. Macabre as it all seems, he sees this as one would a rollercoaster ride, controlled chaos. He lacks lacks the moribund proclivities that accompany such leanings in adults. It is more RKO produced, black and white thriller than 1980’s teen slasher. The Gothic horror of Poe. The emotive, epic orations of Vincent Price. To see it all through his eyes, just once, is a miracle. And the music… oh how it beckons with it’s jaunty, minor key lilt.
Sumerian Records recent signee GVLLOW has issued a track that owes more to The Wake than Ghostemane with brand new single “Last Dance”. The “Emo Rap” flows they’d once been known for are far removed from this Darkwave rocker, and I for one, am more that willing to go along for the ride.
Independent artist Seance have channeled both Joy Division and New Order at the same time with “Dark Flow”, a wispy and almost minimalist album rife with aching, monotone vocals and lovelorn lyrics, they have perfected the choral synth approach.
Meanwhile, back on Skinny Puppy ’s side of Industrial music, Dead Lights have followed up 2021’s self titled album with a lumbering, bottom heavy electronic odyssey “Glitterspit”. A record so instantly hook laden and infectious, label Darktunes Music Group may well be moving to another level.
In the hinterlands of major label rock (Warner Records, Inc), the Deftones own Chino Moreno, along with long time collaborator and ex Far guitarist, Shawn Lopez, have crafted another chapter in the ttt (Crosses) legacy. This time around, they have ramped up the glitch and stutter of Nine Inch Nails in place of the Witch House sounds that they initially materialized with, to astoundingly cohesive effect. I make no bones about my affection for everything Chino touches, and this disc ‘Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete”, is on my shortlist for record of ’23.
This season may as well be the one of Electro-Goth revival, as so many have hitched wagons to the sound. Digital Drvgs and Buzz Kull have joined forces for the undulating synth wave shakedown of “Dark Romance” (Buzz Kull Remix) on Coffin Drop Records. Conversely, the later period Billy Duffy wall of guitar and dusty Neo-western drawl of The Birthday Party have informed spooky rock stalwarts Blood Bells have unleashed an unabashed, black pompadour of a single with “Wrong Side”(self-released). This comes with my highest recommendation.
I’m almost overwhelmed with the amount of music in this niche that has surfaced in the past four weeks. I cannot possibly cover it all, but suffice to say, the Goths aren’t going anywhere, and I am all for their rise.
As the season careens into winter, we set our eyes to bright lights and less morbid holidays. I must admit that this fill me with leagues more dread than a vampire or demon could ever hope to. Until Halloween comes again, I will savor these moments with my little man, singing for sweets, watching Goosebumps, and keeping him warm. God, I love this holiday, I love dark music, and I love you all.
From the Tanski family to yours , Happy halloween.