Over the past 10 years synthwave has transformed from a small niche genre that raised eye brows in Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 film Drive to record labels such as Blood Music pulling millions of views on YouTube and fans of the smash-hit Netflix show Stranger Things clamoring for a soundtrack vinyl treatment. Heavily inspired by new wave, 1980′s films, soundtracks, and video games, the genre developed a retro-futuristic aesthetic found in projects such as Perturbator (Black Flame Interview), Carpenter Brut, Power Glove, Com Truise, and more. Among these artists a ghost haunts the genre, pulling more heavily from classic slasher films, Satanic literature, and bass rich contemporary electronic music. His upcoming album, “Non Paradisi”, is described as “a loose musical adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost,” concerning Lucifer’s fall from Heaven and ensuing ascent from the Lake of Fire”. At the end of the month Gost will launch an international tour in the United State and Europe, with shows already selling out. I’ve had the pleasure to talk to the man behind this infernal project and discuss some of his influences, Satanism & the Church of Satan, horror films and the throw-back horror trend, Stranger Things, his new album, and his brand new music video, all from a Satanic perspective. Enjoy!
I first heard Perturbator almost exactly a year ago while editing a highly rated review for Dangerous Days at Heathen Harvest. The writer described a faux-retro synthwave album that melds cyberpunk aesthetics with the neon-cool atmosphere of Drive, with an evil supercomputer named “Satan” thrown in the mix. Being a long-time fan of electronic music, cyberpunk, and the films of Nicolas Winding Refn, I couldn’t help be feel like someone formed an album specifically for me.
Keeping my solipsism in check wasn’t hard. It turned out that Perturbator was doing quite well in the underground electronic dance scene. The project was getting excellent coverage in digital and print magazines, and had tracks included in popular indie video games Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. In many ways this reminded me of the faults of having musical blinders on. Being so focused on specific obscure genres of music almost had me missing out on what would become one of my favorite projects in recent years.
When people first discover neofolk, they’re quick to come across the work of Death in June, Current 93, and Sol Invictus, if indeed the work of these founders isn’t what led them there in the first place. However, it usually isn’t long before the work of Michael Cashmore comes into focus, who has arguably been every bit as important to the development of the genre. This long-time Current 93 collaborator has long been considered a legend through his work as Nature and Organisation, releasing one of the most unique and instantly distinguishable albums that the genre has to offer in 1994 with Beauty Reaps the Blood of Solitude before allowing the project to grow dormant several years later after the release of the unfinished album, Death in a Snow Leopard Winter.
After many years of silence, however, Trisol—likely known to our readership for recent releases ranging from Rome’s A Passage to Rhodesia to Sopor Aeternus’s Mitternacht—has convinced Cashmore to finally reissue both of Nature and Organisation’s albums, along with two bonus tracks, under the banner of Snow Leopard Messiah. Michael was kind enough to grant us an interview to speak about the project’s past, the reason for bringing these albums back to print for his fans, and his need to evolve as a person today.
It was 1998, in an underground—literally, it was in the basement of an apartment building—NYC book and magazine shop called See Hear where my interest in both Satanism and Abrahamsson’s work emerged. As a voracious reader of the occult and counter-culture, I devoured everything the shop had to offer and settled on two prevailing interests, industrial music and Satanism. One day I was picking out some fanzines featuring Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle along with the Anton LaVey Memorial Issue of The Black Flame when another patron noticed the intersection of interests. He pointed out that The Black Flame issue contained an article by a member of Psychic TV who had his own industrial band called White Stains (a reference to Crowley’s collection of poetry). And yes, the issue contained a touching memorial of LaVey by Mr. Carl Abrahamsson, the Satanist of Letters. That same night I went to one of the local record stores and, lo-and-behold, a used copy of Why Not For Ever? was waiting for me in the bin where all the out-of-print industrial/experimental records were held. That album and other White Stains releases would provide me with a soundtrack through many forbidden late-night excursions and remain a lasting influence in my taste for experimental rhythmic music (the tracks ‘Time, Gentleman‘ and ‘Soft Explosion‘ in particular).
Sutekh Hexen first popped up on my radar when going through the lineup for the Stella Natura festival in 2012. They were easily one of my dark horse favorites from the event, and over the years I’ve made sure to keep up with their unearthly brew of black metal, cacophonous noise, and occult ambiance. This past June I was able to catch an intimate performance in Los Angeles as they toured up the US West Coast and bore witness to a moving sonic ritual. Shortly afterwards I had the pleasure to catch up with the band’s mastermind, Kevin Gan Yuen, and talk about the tour, collaborations, the convergence between extreme metal and noise scenes, tapes, ritualistic performances, and upcoming plans.
he years 2005 and 2006 will always stand out as one of the highlights in the long history of Cold Meat Industry. We saw new music from Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, Desiderii Marginis, Atrium Carceri, Brighter Death Now, Sephiroth, Mz.412, raison d’être, the return of IRM, and live performances across the world. They also seemed to have had an increased interest in Neofolk, introducing bands such as Medusa’s Spell, Rome, and Stormfågel. At first I was a little hesitant, if I recall correctly there was a heightened interest in Neofolk at the time, and a sort of power vacuum as well. It would be about 4 years before we would see a new Death in June album, 7 years for a new Blood Axis, and a number of new bands coming out, some looking to make their mark, others retreading the same ground. With Stormfågel, I initially wondered how they would define themselves, but it didn’t take long before I picked up on the subtle, hidden references to Existential films and literature, and took them to be far more intellectual than some of the other new bands coming out.
Over time I felt some internal conflicts within myself, in that I’ve felt rooted in traditional ideals, but fully aware of my own functions and contributions to a modern world. After a closer examination, I was surprised to see Stormfågel also lamenting on these conflicts and with that I was even more excited for their new release and to interview front-man Andreas Neidhardt for Heathen Harvest. The following conversation was had over an extended period of time in early 2012 over e-mail, during which time Andreas was finalizing the new album “Dödsvals”, and towards the end of the thread actually saw its release.