New Dark Age

Nights Out: Stimulate and QXT’s Present Leaether Strip, May 25, 2019

Danish electro-industrial act, Leaether Strip, headlined a lineup of dark techno-alternative/EBM at Newark’s QXT’s nightclub. Guest DJ Paradox made her first-time ever visit to debut at QXT’s the same night.

Leaether Strip is a solo project of musician Claus Larsen who labels his work “symphonic electro,” and it can be described as frankly aggressive-industrial. Leaether Strip’s discography is vast, with dozens of albums and EPs dating back to 1989 as well as participation in compilations and side projects.

Opening the night was the performance duo Hot Pink Satan, a ferociously raunchy act that features wantonly gorgeous female singer-dancer-ecdysiast Clea Cutthroat accompanied by male vocalist Jeremy Creamer, whose grumbling lyrics and rumbling bassline serve as perfect punctuation to Clea’s vehement, explicit vocals. Statuesque and eye-poppingly beautiful in fishnets, blonde wig, and high heel boots, Miss Cutthroat eventually loses the wig, revealing a black mohawk, then most of her outerwear. She proceeds to smear her showgirl makeup and supplement it with theatrical blood. She engages in some wild choreography on stage, then tumbles off stage where she teases, frightens, and delights spectators. If you really want to know the rest of the performance, you had better check them out yourself because decorum and propriety prohibit a full description here.

Industrial bass musician Moris Blak was up next manning his electronic boards in a full, faceless mask as he poured out huge helpings of underground dance music in what he self-describes as a “vortex of adrenaline and dread,” while his own bleak and disturbing videos ran on a screen behind him.

Next, DJ Lenny B’s powerful electro-industrial percussive noise project added fuel to the fire lit by the two preceding bands, to the enthusiastic approval of the home crowd, setting the stage for the headliner.

Statiqbloom, an original, post-industrial electronic act with praise-worthy Skinny Puppy sound-alike qualities, made an impressive appearance as they prepared to head out to Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany.

Leaether Strip came on around midnight. This was his first ever appearance in NJ, and it marked the band’s 30th anniversary. Opening with “Kill a Raver,” LS reached back to early material, such as the mantra-like “Japanese Bodies” from Penetrate the Satanic Citizen (1989). The sound was thick with deep bass lines as Larsen went back and forth between vocals and lead keyboard. Halfway through the set, he pulled off his shirt revealing his studded leather shoulder harness. Songs we heard included “Strap Me Down” from the Solitary Confinement album (1992) and “Don’t Tame Your Soul” from Underneath the Laughter (1993).

It’s a tribute to Leaether Strip’s decades-long popularity that the crowd remained with the full set after enduring five preceding exceptionally heavy, acoustically-punishing acts.

Interview: Hot Pink Satan

Hot Pink Satan is a performance act involving bass-driven electronic music and harsh, explicit lyrics, semi-nudity, and lots of theatrical blood. It is a collaboration of bass player and male vocalist Jeremy Creamer and singer and exotic dancer Mollie Black, under the stage name Clea Cutthroat.

How did this project HPS first get started?

Jeremy: We met in an American ex-pat community in Berlin where Clea had been performing with an act called Bonaparte.

What brought you together, Clea?

Clea: Well, after about 10 years, Bonaparte had fallen apart, and I was looking for a musician to collaborate with. I invited Jeremy to a party of American ex-pats.

What was your background? What were you looking to do with another musician?

Clea: I had started out dancing ballet, and then shifted into jazz, burlesque, and eventually weird performance art, anarchist-circus stuff. I was with this German band Bonaparte for 10 years. We toured Europe, Russia, Asia.

Jeremy, what’s your musical background?

Jeremy: I grew up playing classical music on double bass. I stayed with that up to college, Berkeley, where I went to study music production.

When did you get into alternative music, drop the classical?

Jeremy: Actually, it goes back to an early exposure when I was in the seventh grade. A friend had given me a recording of [Revolting Cock’s] Beers, Steers, and Queers. It kind of stuck with me. And when I didn’t like the prospect of playing the same classics over and over again —just before college—I went into, first, heavy metal. Around age 18, I started playing with heavy metal cover bands supported by Roadrunner Records.

But Hot Pink Satan is another whole direction.

Jeremy: Well I became involved with my lady who’s in the club here tonight, manning the merch stand, and who tours with us now. She was doing a variety and burlesque show, and I played bass in support.

So, the coming-together, Clea?

Clea: I invited Jeremy to a party in Berlin. Jeremy was doing electronic music, deejaying, and singing. I was looking for a counterpart to work my ideas with. He played solo for like 4 hours at this party, and I said to myself, this is the guy I want to put together a project with.

Jeremy, what was your music scene at the time? Heavy metal?

Jeremy: I grew up in Atlanta GA. There wasn’t much of a Goth scene. It was more like punk, you know, camo shorts and punk attitude and such.

Your music tastes at the time?

Jeremy: Portishead. Bjork. Kind of sad boy stuff.

So what’s HPS up to now?

Jeremy: We both live in Pittsburgh, so we can work together on material. We’re on a tour that makes a big circle from Pittsburgh over to Denver, then up to Toronto and Ottawa, then down to New York, Newark and then to North Carolina.

Playing this raunchy, explicit and in-your-face performance art?

Jeremy: Yeah. Well it fits so many scenes. We play at goth nights, heavy metal clubs, punk nights, industrial music shows. You name it.

Do you have any trouble with authorities because of the nudity or the explicit lyrics?

Clea: Only maybe in Virginia and Tennessee. The risk is usually to the venue’s liquor license.

And the explicit sexuality and nudity are the issues?

Clea: I was an original riot grrl, so I deal with it. I mean, I’m comfortable with nudity, semi or partly covered, or whatever. For me nudity and sexuality are a statement.

So what’s on the horizon for HPS?

Jeremy: Everything we can think of. We’ve got an album called Spells that came out last October, plus a couple of singles and a remix. We plan another album with some covers. We just want it to be authentically us. But we are going to tour before going back into the studio to record. Right now we’re riding the goth train.

Covers? Like… Frank Sinatra?

Jeremy: How did you guess? Yeah, Frank Sinatra, for one.

She-Devil at Madame X, NYC, June 2, 2019

One of the little discussed preoccupations of the Goth scene is an interest in the tie-in between glamour and fetishes. This is connected to the zeal of Goths for everything iconoclastic and to their tolerance for everything socially dubious and sexually prohibited.

Glamorous model and scene regular Ashley Bad, in cooperation with Smack! Productions hosted a night dedicated to tantalizing femininity and dark music at the atmospheric bar, Madame X, on W. Houston St. in Manhattan. The soundscape was provided by DJ Xris Smack.

Opening at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night, She-Devil proved to be a voyeur’s delight for the group of in-the-know attendees, which included a number of serious photographers. Extraordinarily beautiful, shapely models in elaborate lingerie danced—three and four at a time—on a raised stage at the end of Madame X’s long, narrow upstairs lounge. They were led primarily by svelte and charming, magenta-haired Chloe D’Cay. Other stand-out sights to behold included voluptuous Lauren de Mew and statuesque Cypress Bates.

Those who were there for the music enjoyed an equally pleasurable experience as masterful DJ Xris set a decadent aural mood with tracks that ranged from symphonic electronic to cinematic, from industrial metal to rockabilly, and highlights from the classic Goth rock repertory of less frequently heard entries by Bauhaus (“Boys”), Siouxsie (“Red Light”), and Peter Murphy (“Socrates the Python.”)

As if all this sensuous entertainment wasn’t already enough, hostess Ashley introduced onto the stage the stunning and shocking belly dancer/snake charmer Lylou von Wild, whose beauty and exotic allurement was amplified by her live python’s restless undulations and by her own gyrations, as well as the occasional and harrowing revelation of her split tongue.

After the performances, deejay and mistress of desserts, Annabel Evil, distributed devil’s food cupcakes to the hedonists in attendance to top off a night of sensuality.


Disko Anksiyete — She Past Away (Metropolis Records)

There was a time, not too long ago, when “baby bats” and as well as veterans of the Goth scene were asking what’s new in the music world. The post-punk band She Past Away thoroughly answered that question. Formed in 2006, the Turkish duo moved over to Metropolis Records for a North American tour and just released their third album this year, having taken the Goth club deejay world by storm with two previous releases.

Keyboardist and producer Doruk Öztürkan now has replaced bass player Idris Akbulut who had been a familiar, gaunt figure in their music videos alongside bushy-haired Volkan Caner. Caner remains the vocalist on all three albums.

Disko Anksiyete (Disc Player) consists of ten quintessentially minimalist darkwave tracks that are each delightfully melodious, ponderous, and archetypically post-punk. From the first track “Bosluk,” Turkish for “space,” to the tenth, “Agit” (“Lament”) there is unwavering maintenance of a mood of existential angst that Goths find so satisfying. Some songs have a more rapid, agitated rhythm that will lift the mood ever so slightly and challenge dancers as it lures them on to the dance floor.

The third track is the title track and will especially remind fans of the era when New Order redefined electronic dance, but it is  rendered profound by Volkan Caner’s  melancholic vocals. Without being imitative, many tracks on this album will evoke echoes of eighties icons like Sisters, Siouxsie, and Joy Division. Each track has the unmistakable She Past Away trademark sound and feel, which is one of gloom bordering on anger. The melodies are irresistible and the rhythms hypnotic.

Dark Nouveau (Metropolis Records)

Are you looking for a compilation of 24 tracks of international bands that cover the entire spectrum of post-punk from Dark Wave/Goth to Synthwave and Industrial? Dark Nouveau provides a listening experience that is almost unparalleled in bringing the latest and the broadest survey of post-millennial post-punk and alternative music to the public in one package.

Starting with the current favorite group in the cold wave category, She Past Away, is the entry “Asimilasyon” off their 2015 album Narin Yalnizlik. This is followed by a mainly instrumental, hypnotic electronic piece with sparing vocals by Norwegian band Antipode. Next follows Italian darkwavers Ash Code, whose 2018 album release was reviewed in the November issue of New Dark Age. Another Italian group on this compilation is Dark Door, a duo from Naples that offers fast paced, compelling rhythms and dark baritone male vocals similar in some general way to She Past Away.

Shadow Age from Virginia is represented by a rapid-paced ode with choral vocals. Hante Silence contributes a choir-like ethereal piece, then Argentinian group Balvanera follows with the minimalist electronic sound and distant melancholy vocals reminiscent of Boy Harsher.

The neo-lounge sound of Noir is Athan Maroulis’s undulating vocals on “A Pleasure to Burn.” Skeletal Hands’ “Unwanted” is almost symphonic in its full, layered sound and features clear, operatic vocals. “The Burial” by Seeming, a band from Ithaca, NY, is melodious and has fine male vocals and luscious electronica. The entry by The Harrow from Brooklyn is a cold wave, trip-hop piece, as is “You, My Treasure” by Brooklyn’s Dead Leaf Echo, with ethereal feminine vocals over a hissing drone.

Some of the artists and groups will be familiar to enthusiasts, others will be excellent new discoveries for those seeking to learn new music. There wasn’t a single track that failed to arouse interest or listening pleasure among the entire 24 diverse and perfectly representative selections


Hail Satan?

This charming documentary tells the rapid rise of The Satanic Temple (TST) from a handful of humanist agitators into a worldwide religion. Leader and spokesman Lucien Greaves expounds the thoughts and philosophy of the group as he and his followers take on the religious right over the issue of separation of church and state.

Besides tracing the history of Satanism in America and the indignation it consistently provokes, the documentary’s central focus is on efforts by TST to place a monument of demon Baphomet in juxtaposition to existing or proposed monuments of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of public, governmental institutions. Not surprisingly, devout factions and modern-day anti-disestablishmentarians within religious communities rise up to defend the Ten Commandments and to oppose the TST’s efforts to secure equal standing for Baphomet. So vehement is the reaction that many members shown on screen have to have their faces digitally pixilated to hide their identities.

What the documentary really uncovers is the religious community’s mistaken belief that TST is trying to promote evil, crime, and sin, whereas the organization is merely intent upon reinforcing the constitutional separation between church and state and breaking the hegemony of Christianity as the sole expression of religion in America. Tellingly, when the Ten Commandments monument is removed from government grounds, TST withdraws its petition to place the statue of Baphomet.

The central misunderstanding comes from the mistaken idea that TST devotees believe in the same mythological or spiritual Satan in which Christians believe. But the film makes it abundantly clear that Members of TST hold no belief in the supernatural nor in Satan as a real or a spiritual entity. To them, Satan merely represents the “other”—the alternative to the dominant religion. TST’s rather benign, humanistic “Tenets” are explained. When a militant member of TST calls for violence against the authorities, she is excommunicated from the organization.

Entertaining, provocative and informative, Hail Satan? is a documentary film well worth watching.