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.
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).
The life of Anton LaVey was fantasy made real. Lions roar as a whip cracks against the sawdust covered ground, rings of fire flicker before the circus crowd. Barkers exhibit freakish curiosities to the wide-eyed sheep, while god-fearing men sneak under the tent flaps hosting a topless revue. Silhouettes meet in fog covered streets, operating on the fringes of society, playing all sides of the game. Bulbs flash, illuminating the cruel darkness of man’s true nature, children splattered by cowardly hit and run drivers, brothers murdered by brothers, bloated corpses fished out of the San Francisco Bay. Black-clad figures stand before a nude female altar, a massive black Sigil of Baphomet hangs in front of them. A hooded devil opens his cloak, enveloping his cohorts in a sinister shadow. Shouts of “Hail Satan” and “Shemhamforash” echo in the ritual chamber between hypnotic chanting. “So it is done!” A den is populated with handcrafted artificial human companions, imperfect androids which appear to have seen more of life than the full-blooded drones who walk the streets by day.