Darkwave

Darkwave

Music from the Shadows V. 2

K-Tel

When I first received a press release about this album in the mail, I thought it was a joke. After all those awful “music of the 60s/70s/80s” collections that K-Tel used to advertise on TV, now they’re putting out a Darkwave compilation? I must be getting old. But believe it or not, this is actually a good comp, probably because K-Tel conned Sam Rosenthal (of Projekt Records and the Darkwave band Black Tape for a Blue Girl) into putting it together and writing the liner notes.

What is Darkwave? Basically anything from goth to industrial to dark ambient and ethereal, and everything in between. Because the previous CD in this series covered Goth, and the next one’s going to cover Industrial, it’s no surprise that this one leans more toward the dark ambient and ethereal end of the spectrum, which suits me fine. There are a bunch of great bands included — 15 in all, 76 minutes’ worth — so it’s very hard to pick favorites. I first heard Rhea’s Obsession’s “Memento Mori” on a comp in 1996, and it still blows me away here, from the powerful, classical-tinged female vocals to the pounding tribal drums. I’m a sucker for the Legendary Pink Dots’ unique and disturbing psychedelia, so their track “Lucifer Landed” stood out for me. The outstanding keyboard work and ravishingly gorgeous female vocals on Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s “Denoument/Denouncement” makes me want to cry every time I hear it, and the low bass rumbles, unidentified interstellar demons, and other horror-ambiance of Lustmord’s “Black Star” chills me deeper than the bone.

I liked every track, really; my main complaints are about what’s not here — especially the absence of anything from Dead Can Dance or Love is Colder than Death, two groups that I consider pretty crucial to the early days of Darkwave. It also might have been nice to include some of the more obscure, but amazing, European bands like Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, or someone from the World Serpent camp like Current 93 or Sol Invictus. But quibbles aside, this is a solid comp, with enough good stuff on it that even die-hard fans should find a track or two they’re not familiar with, and it’s an excellent place to start if you’re dipping into these dark waters for the first time.

K-Tel International (USA) Inc., 2605 Fernbrook Lane N., Minneapolis, MN 55447-4736; www.ktel.com

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