The Red Party
An outstanding edition of the Red Party took place on Nov. 20 at the usual location, The Mercury, lounge near the corner of East Houston and Essex in NYC. One of themes, as designated by host DJ Sean Templar, was that “Halloween Never Ends.” Three cheers for that sentiment!
He was joined by regular, Jarek (the Raven), and guest DJ, Patrick Cusack, at the turntables. They served up an eclectic, but thoughtfully curated soundscape of goth, post-punk, death-rock and cold-wave. Greetings and hospitality was served up in abundance by hostess and queen bee of the NYC goth scene, Mandana Banshee. Rusted Autumn hawked macabre wares at a booth near the entrance.
Sean’s set list was dedicated to Ayn Rand characters from her famous novel, The Fountainhead, of which it must be assumed that Sean Templar is a fan. Included were tracks by Clan of Xymox (whose Mar. 25, 2018 show at Brooklyn Bazaar is already sold out!), Fields of the Nephilim, Cocteau Twins, Rosetta Stone (“Adrenaline”), The Sisters, The Cure, Bauhaus and much more.
As always the fee for entry was a mere $10, which is ridiculously low considering that live entertainment was provided by the confusingly-named death-rock band, Entertainment, from Athens, Ga., who put on a fascinating and mesmerizing performance. Noisy, chaotic, yet rhythmic and melodious, Entertainment came on at shortly after midnight and had the crowd’s undivided attention. They have an album, Gender, out on Bandcamp, and New Dark Age highly recommends it. Entertainment — the band — deserves credit and support for upholding the gothic musical and countercultural standard in an area of the country that’s not normally thought of a fostering the scene.
We can’t think of a better way for dark social scene and night life enthusiasts to spend a late Saturday and early morning Sunday in the metropolitan area. The next edition, scheduled for Dec. 9, will have taken place before this report goes to print.
No Return Post Punk Society
The Cold Hearts Ball
Alex Von Nihil’s No Return Post Punk Society met on Friday, Dec. 1 at the usual venue, the downstairs lounge at the Pyramid Club on lower Manhattan’s Avenue A. The night was themed “The Cold Hearts Ball.”
Doors opened at 9 p.m. and we stayed until shortly after 11 p.m. We were able to recognize several excellent tracks forthcoming from deejays at the boards and turntables, including Helalyn Flowers’ version of “Pet Sematary,” “Dead & Buried” by Alien Sex Fiend and “Emily” by Clan of Xymox. It was a surprise and a joy to hear the rarely played “Interzone” by Joy Division.
Things started slowly, and for a while we shared the floor with a threesome of “upstairs-Pyramid” types in denim and sweatshirt hoodies, wearing white sneakers and baseball caps turned around backwards. Soon enough the place started to fill in, and by midnight it was packed. A tarot card reader arrived and set aside a small area to do his thing. Von Nihil is thinking of having him back on a regular basis.
Dec. 1, 2017
If you’ve been following the scene, surely you have noticed that “punk” performances and “punk” musicians have evolved over the 40 or so years since the heyday of the style. One place where you can catch the latter-day version of punk is at the Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A on the western edge of Alphabet City, NYC. New Dark Age likes to check in periodically to see what the punks, starving musicians are up to and what the creative denizens of New York are listening to. These are the cultural descendants of the punk scene and many, in fact were punk rockers themselves in the ‘70s and ‘80s. This is the crowd that is alive and well at The Sidewalk Cafe, but only rarely does one hear or see undernourished, mohawk-tressed throw-backs with a battered guitars playing three-chord pogo punk.
Instead the same counter-cultural music makers tend toward what has been dubbed “Anti-Folk,” a more melodious, socially conscious, but often snarky genre. R&B is ubiquitous in American music and finds it way in anti-folk, jazz, rock and punk these days.
Thus it was that while being fed on the Middle Eastern menu, we were entertained by a duet in residence every Friday for the past six months at the Sidewalk, called Mad Caddy, backed by a tabla-player. A comely female vocalist and tee-shirt clad male guitarist spent about equal time alternately taking the lead, then harmonizing together a bluesy, folksy set of original songs.
They seemed self-conscious in promoting their jolly and optimistic songs as if ashamed of the heavier themes that characterized other, less cheerful pieces of their set. A Beatles cover worked its way into the set, too. We enjoyed the superb quality of the singing and guitar accompaniment and were happy to contribute to the tip jar (actually a hollowed out mandolin) in appreciation. We hope they hold on to the table-player because he did a lot to fill and pace their excellent performance.
New Years Eve Recommendations
New Dark Age doesn’t usually report on events yet to be held, but with New Year’s Eve coming up, it’s best to note at least two spectacular NYC parties scheduled for that auspicious date.
First of these, In New Jersey, QXT’s will host Mighty Mike Saga and Tom Shear of Assemblage 23 as live entertainment at their New Years Eve celebration.
The Red Party
The Red Party’s ‘80s-themed New Years Eve After Party will commence at shortly after midnight on the morning of Jan. 1, allowing folks to have spent the earlier evening with friends and/or family before heading over to their favorite goth party to be held, like most recent Red Party events, at the Mercury Lounge.
Dances of Vice – Demimonde Speakeasy
Another New Years Eve event is Demimonde Speakeasy 2018, a spectacular presentation of live bands and exotic acts aimed at plumbing the depths of debonair decadence, hosted by Dances of Vice, a nightlife project that is the creation of entertainment provocateur Shien Lee.
A spectacular New Years Eve night is expected to unfold when Dances of Vice holds its unparalleled year’s end celebration. Its focus — totally appropriate for New Years Eve — is illicit luxury, the milieu of a 19th Century French bordello or early 20th century cabaret. Attendees are expected to be dressed for high-class hedonism.
As of this writing, Cybertron’s Jet Berelson will be having a New Years Eve bash at Blackthorn 51 in Elmhurst, Queens.
Krampusnacht with No Return Post Punk Society
At the time of this writing, the No Return Post Punk Society was planning to hold a Krampusnacht Ball on Dec. 15, which may have passed by the time you read this posting. In any event, the Society holds balls of one category or another just about every month of the year at the historic venue, and one can schedule an appearance by checking the calendar out on social media.
CIMA – The Center for Italian Modern Art
421 Broome Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY
The Center for Italian Modern Art on Manhattan’s SoHo is hosting an exceptional exhibition featuring the works of Alberto Savinio, including guided tours, lectures and open hours by appointment. Savinio is better known as the brother of Giorgio De Chirico, the father of the school of metaphysical art, but his original work deserves its own standing.
Born of an Italian noble family, like his more famous brother, in Athens, Greece, Alberto dropped his family name — Andrea De Chirico — perhaps to get out from under his family’s shadow. His paintings, bizarre, avant-garde and mysterious, seem however to reference his family’s dynamics, particularly his pained relationship with his overbearing mother. During a lecture and slide show presented by esteemed scholar of art history, Renato Barilli, we learned that some unpleasant portrayals of female figures, in which the head of a pelican was substituted for that of a woman, might represent Savinio’s ambivalent feelings toward his mother. Pastel-colored abstracts of clusters of fantasy objects rendered in concrete detail might reflect Savinio’s nostalgia for the toys of childhood.
Professor Barilli’s talk, valiantly delivered in accented but eloquent English, also dealt with comparisons between the “vertical” borrowings from classical imagery by Giorgio De Chirico vs. the “horizontal” borrowing by Savinio of objects, scenarios and situations from his contemporary world. Uncomfortable family and self-portraits, grotesque juxtapositions and downright creepy distortions of human, animal and inanimate forms prove infinitely fascinating to gaze upon.
There is, in my mind, complete justification for considering Alberto Savinio’s art to be in the same class and metaphysical category as that of his more renowned brother, Giorgio.De Chirico.
Admission is $10 for non-members and free for students. Guided tours take place Saturdays and Sundays. Entry is by appointment and pre-registration on the museum’s
Meat Beat Manifesto
(Flexidisc via Virtual Label)
MBM, can only be categorized with some difficulty. The terms techno, house, dubstep and industrial have been applied. This column is dedicated to the last of these: Industrial. As such, we won’t try to speak in the vocabulary of “uptempo,” “jungle,” “steppers riddim,” “breakbeat house” and “sick dub licks.”
By my estimate, MBM is essentially a percussion ensemble which employs synthetic electronic sounds as the strike of the beat. The full armamentarium of the electronic soundboard is used to create soundscapes with mechanical, as well as electronic hi-tech tones, as the beat of the rhythm. The rhythms themselves are compelling, complex and tribal-driven by synthetic beats, which resemble a beep, a brush, a whistle, a hollow wood, a snap, a clap, a skin drum, etc. The inventory of sounds that MBM employs — just in percussionist — is staggering.
On this soon-to-be released, first album in seven years, Impossible Star, one gets to experience experimental, synthesized electronic voices born of great creativity but some of which have come full-circle to resemble the everyday sounds we are all familiar with: A foghorn, a computer voice, even quacking ducks. Samples of human voices (never full, upfront singing) may resemble that of the Wookie from Star Wars, or frog-like computer voices, or may consist of staticky, radio squawk, transmitting some kind of emergency situation. On some tracks, chaos threatens to pervade the loosely arranged intermingling of innumerable synthetic beats, but a clear rhythm usually re-emerges from the chaos.
The range of synthetic sounds of non-rhythmic music goes from loopy tunings of the radio dial to sweeping strings to ethereal, angelic choirs, the latter evoking nostalgia for vintage archival television of the ‘40s and ‘50s, or even an incidental steampunk touch.
Throughout many of these thirteen tracks, eerie soundscapes are created. Some evoke a cold, mechanical feeling or desolation. The spacey, high-pitched breezy sound on the opening track, and the wavering sci-fi electronic noise with neither beat nor melody that accompanies it, can be perceived as the soundtrack for a situation of being stranded on an asteroid.
The title-track opens with a hammering sound in yet another tribal rhythm layered over a variety of instruments and of distorted but not unpleasant vocals that repeat the phrase, “It’s impossible.” This gets supplemented by choral backup samples. The hammering transforms to harsh, rhythmic brushing with the same beat. In fact, transformation of sound, sometimes gradual and other times abrupt is a signature feature of this body of work.
There’s a video already out of the seventh track, “Lurker,” which features waves of high-pitched, sci-fi type sounds and a snappy percussive cadence. In it, the washing, aquatic background sounds create an undulating soundscape with abrupt changes. It goes on with variations for 15 funky minutes of buzzes, ghostly echoes, and bongo beats.
Impossible Star is like much of MBM’s oeuvre, mainly a percussion-based musical collage/montage in the service of rhythm. Like MBM’s entire body of work, it lacks the participation of a vocalist. It’s much more about rhythm and atmosphere.