AENIMA "Revolutions" / (p)00 Symbiose
Having listened to this album I was rather surprised at the fact mentioned in the attached letter - the band is looking for a label to release its new album. What is going on? What does Projekt, or, say, Cruel Moon look at? Of course, the very fact of a young band looking for a label isn't surprising, though I somehow got used to the practice when the bands that play interesting music of decent quality are at once sheltered by labels. The same happened to a great deal of demos we have been getting - as soon as an interesting self-release is out, in couple of months the album through a decent label will follow. So I am convinced that the difficulties the portuguese band AENIMA has to face are soon to pass away - at least, their album is one of the best ethereal releases I've recently heard. One shouldn't take the mentioned "etheriality" the wrong way - AENIMA sounds much better than most Project bands (let Project fans forgive me). Tender female voice (closer to Elizabeth Frazer - COCTEAU TWINS) is combined with rather different music - either melancholic etherial rock (that quite resembles COCTEAU TWINS), or electronic space ambient and noises, or even dymanic (though very melancholic) electronic beat, or oriental percussion, reminding of DEAD CAN DANCE. It's worth mentioning the fact that the lyrics and the music of the band are "cosmic" - and in the flight to distant worlds the wonderful voice of Carmen, and the music the other four members make will became a perfect kind of accompaniment.
AUDRA "Audra" / (p)00 Projekt
Rather an unusual release for Projekt, though it seems so only at first. Brothers Bret and Bart Helm play melancholic gothic rock, with quite a tinge of the 80's. The only Projekt band it can be compared to is THANATOS, and parallels can be driven between them and Peter Murphy's (BAUHAUS) solo works. By the way, the vocals of Bret reminds of Murphy, and of JOY DIVISION & VELVET UNDERGROUND. Of course, this isn't to be taken literally - AUDRA plays the music of today, that sounds quite modern, but it's evident that they were inspired by the above mentioned bands. Mellow sensual voice, dynamic bass, post-punky percussion, emotional guitars now singing about unhappy love, now howling about it - these are the components of the album, that possibly is one of the best gothic releases of the year. It's somehow a return to the roots of goth music - not an attempt to play something like post-punk/goth rock of the 80's, not only a revival of the early goth spirit, but quite a revision of early gothic rock. As always, the new turned out to be the once long forgotten, and nowadays Project present AUDRA as one of the flagships of the "new sound" of goth. And tracks like "What Your Eyes Had Seen", "You're so Pretty","In Hollywood Tonight" (dedicated to Rozz Williams) and "2 Girls in 1 Dress" make you believe it.
THE AWAKENING "The Fourth Seal of Zeen" / (p)00 Intervention Arts
For some of our compatriots the existence of Russian goth bands is a nonsense - they can give a bunch of reasons to prove the fact that goth music and aesthetics do not have the right to exist in Russia. Though Western reviewers are surprised to hear the music of Russian goth bands, noting the high level of some of them, and do not make such sharp declarations. Nevertheless, goth music from Russia is quite an exotic fruit for a Western listener. Why did I mention exotics? Because the band I'm going to introduce is from a country rather exotic for goth music - South Africa. It turned out that the boers'descendants formed a small, but quite united goth scene, and THE AWAKENING is the # 1 local cult band. Their history dates from 1995, "The Fourth Seal of Zeen" is their fourth full-length album. In a certain way it is a one man band - Ashton Nyte creates all the music and lyrics and plays all the instruments in the studio (THE AWAKENING have a changeable line-up for live performances)and sings. Frankly speaking, I had been expecting that "The Fourth Seal of Zeen" was some kind of banal gothic rock, though what I heard went beyond all expectations. The general stylistics is a kind of "darkwaved" gothic rock Ashton Nyte himself calls Dark Future Music. This term is quite suitable for the music, and the anthem to the dark romanticism - "The Dark Romantics" - characterizes their aesthetics as well. It's not the only successful track though; moreover, it's hard to find secondary or mediocre songs there. The album is rather gloomy and depressive and at the same time quite amazing to listen to - though its playing time is 74 minutes! At least, having listened to it I am not sceptical about the existence of a goth scene in South Africa. Maybe, THE AWAKENING is the # 1 band, cause they sound best of all; although I am not sure whether they have any local rivals.
P.S. It's a double CD - the second one, as it have been expected, comprises some rare stuff.
COLLIDE "Chasing The Ghost" / (p)00 Noiseplus Music
I remember the long-gone year 1996. At that time it was difficult to find a Western gothic fanzine without a full-size sensational news about the release of the album and EP of COLLIDE. Really, the americans rushed dramatically into the electro-goth scene at the same time with the album "Beneath the Skin" & "Skin" EP. By the way, that EP featured the remixes by such influential people as cEvin Key (SKINNY PUPPY/DOWNLOAD), Bruno Kramm (DAS ICH), Phillip Boa, and they, as it is well-known, do not make remixes for whoever. With their support and going tour with the proper bands, COLLIDE made a kind of statement that they had come in earnest and for long. Moreover, their music was quite a success. A mix of electro, goth, industrial, darkwave, trip hop, it was to find more faithful listeners than each one of that styles could. Stimulating rhythm, certain drive, non-banal melodies, filled with the eroticism of dark etherial female vocal - everything was fully present in the music of COLLIDE. Really, it was one of the most impressive debutes of the year! In 1997 a remixe album "Distort" followed. And that's all - nothing was then heard of COLLIDE. It was rather sad, that a band with such a potential expressed themselves in only one full-length album and practically turned to a king for a day. Re-Construction label that released their album perished as well. By 2000 COLLIDE was forgotten. When, not so long ago, a new CD of COLLIDE named "Chasing The Ghost" was brought into the office of Russian Gothic Page, some were struck by sweet tears and others seized with the lustful passion of first coming into possession. The new work kaRIN & Statik was released through their new label "Noiseplus Music", the creation of which must have taken the lion's share of their time. But time has no power over their musical talents: 10 new songs are ten 100% hits, that will become a nice present for those who has been long waiting for COLLIDE as well as for the new listeners. The stylistics remained the same, maybe there was a tendency towards dark trip wave. This time the disc features "wedding generals" - the cult persons Monica Richards & William Faith (FAITH & THE MUSE) in three tracks. Certain part of the public will be amazed by a magnificent cover version of "White Rabbit" of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, once also a cult band, from the album "Surrealistic Pillow, out in 1967, adding a fair portion of dark romanticism to the wonderful melody. The album is good, say, for all the occasions: one can either dance to it, or just sit and listen, or use it as a background and think about something personal. Although, for me the last thing seems every time more and more difficult. The album is so saturated with sexual energetics, that it awakes, frankly speaking, resistless fits of lust. I have the desire to bring out the box with expensive latex ammo hidden deep in the wardrobe, put on a service cap, rubber socks, slit pants, take my favourite whip and lash everybody at home, myself included. In general COLLIDE have quite a nice perspective after a long break to join the vanguard electro goth, especially bearing in mind that CURVE - their close rivals as to sound have problems as always, and SWITCHBLADE SYMPHONY after two successful albums totally got out of breath. The most important thing for COLLIDE now is not to get lost for years again!
THE CRUXSHADOWS "Paradox Addendum" mini-CD/ (p)01 Dancing Ferret
I rather liked the previous disc of THE CRUXSHADOWS, though it didn't arise a storm of amazement. "The Mystery of the Whisper" is a nice album, but there are if not millions, but quite many of such releases. Nevertheless the reviewed new CD has done its deal, though a bit too late - now I'm sure that THE CRUXSHADOWS is one of the most perspective bands of the world goth scene! And how little was needed - three new songs, three remixes from the previous album and one ballad ("Annabel Lee", naturally, by Edgar Poe). Many of you are acquainted with the word "electro-goth", the stylistics of THE CRUXSHADOWS can be described more or less like this, though, as in many other styles that have certain national features, it's not that simple. The album is not related with British electro-goth, made popular by Nightbreed label, it's a kind of an american incarnation of the style and a quite successful one - even more "synth" than "electro". Time to name the ingredients of the sophisticated coctail named THE CRUXSHADOWS "Paradox Addendum" - beautiful and sensual male vocal (really, a nice one - Vocal, capital letter) and energetic electro-rhythm, mesmerizing infernal keyboards, background chaotic guitars, live violin - with all the seeming variety, all these components make for real hits. I enjoyed everything but for one track ("Heaven's Gate") - first of all, due to the simplicity of sound. (comparing to the other tracks). So the verdict is evident - the future of international goth music is in the right hands, and I am sure that THE CRUXSHADOWS will make quite an uproar not only at the local scene, but at the international one as well.
P.S. the album contains a video on "Cruelty"
DORNENREICH "Her Von Welken Nachten" / (p)01 Prophecy
... Profecy Productions again loaded us with some work, having sent us some new discoveries in a promo pack. This time the "discovery" was DORNENREICH, a band from Germany that released its third album through Prophecy. Frankly speaking, it's not absolutely clear why the CD was to be reviewed by us, cause it's not quite in the format (and, straightaway, out of the format at all), although we couldn't fail to pay our tribute to such a honoured label, that is why we publish a review on this work. So, what is the music of DORNENREICH like? According to the press release, they started with black metal and the first two albums out at CCP Records in 1997 and 1999 accordingly, are more or less in that stylistic. Altough, working on their third creation, this time for Prophecy, the musicians, after musing for a while, evidently decided that "the patterns of the existing style were getting too tight", and so it was the right hour to start something new. The "new" was a crazy mix of all the existing elements of modern metal. The prospect was clearly very simple: if the patterns of one style impede our work, we will widen them by playing songs in different stylistics and put them in one album, without much concern about what it will sound like. And alltogether it sounds, at least, very strange. So the album begins with an energetic intro in dark-metal wave, and after that, quite unexpected, appear now black metal excerpts, now doom metal fragments, now whatever. After five such tracks, we can relax a bit and listen to two accoustic "schizo-dark-folk" songs a-la EMPYRIUM with violins. A couple of energetic "melodic dark-metal" tracks follow and in the end there is a pseudo-accoustic ballad ... Just the living end ... Frankly speaking, I cannot get who is the album released for. EMPYRIUM fans are not likely to purchase it, and black metal fans won't forgive the "snots" in the middle of the album. In general - it is quite interesting, but at the same time quite complicated - cause musical material is hopping from one extremity into another during the 60 min. of playing time. I rather admit, that some metal fans will buy this CD in order just to pick out the songs they enjoy from the first part of the album, and like excerpts in the second one, but people who are into dark folk won't purchase it because of some three tracks. So I have a proposal for Prophecy - to release a mini-Cd containing dark-folk stuff , and an EP with metal "mash" - so the economic effect will be much better than the promotion and distribution of all this under the cover of one album...
FORREST FANG "Gongland" / (p)00 Project
A marvellous band, that plays typical ethno-ambient. In general, the music of FORREST FANG is close to the works of such authors as STEVE ROACH, VIDNA OBMANA, THOM BRENNAN and many others, but, at the same time distinctive and quite original. No wonder, cause in spite of the fact they are almost unknown (at least, in our country) the project has quite a great length of service - a dozen releases, first of that date from 1980 ... Besides beautiful and rich electronics, traditional Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian accoustic instruments are used. Even Russian balalaika! Airy atmosphere of a fairy-tale makes your imagination work hard. And you find yourself in a boat, the current takes it down a narrow transparent stream with conifers that grow along its banks, the mist shrouds the tops of the trees and the singing of heavenly birds is heard everywhere ...
IMPRESSIONS OF WINTER "Iuturna" / (p)00 Sad Eyes/Trisol
Nowadays ethereal is not in the bloom - the main headquarters of it - Hyperium - gives but faint signs of life, and nothing is heard of ex-stars like STOA and AURORA SUTRA for a long time, american Project is quite active, but there's stagnation with ethereal music there as well. But I'm almost sure that the new album of IMPRESSIONS OF WINTER will be a breath of fresh air for all the fans of this style. On their third album we see the band in all its splendour - and let the envious ones blame them for resembling STOA and DEAD CAN DANCE (in general, there's a bit of truth in it), but it's not the most important thing. "Iuturna" no doubt is the best album of the band that demonstrates what real ethereal is. It creates really gothic, mystic ritual atmosphere - oriental percussion, atmospheric keyboards, "airy" male and female vocals (and if female vocal is definitely good in every ethereal band, IOW please the ear with the marvellous male vocals - Brendan Perry's got laid down to rest). As for the resembling DEAD CAN DANCE, here's the rare case when the copy is so close to the original that it becomes not a copy, but a masterpiece. In general - highly recommended to all the fans of ethereal and to all, who were not left indifferent with the two previous CDs.
IN THE NURSERY "Exhibit" / (p)00 ITN Corporation
I suspect that Humberstone bros. do not waste their time sleeping or eating: when I look through my collection on ITN CDs (which is far from being complete), I feel deep respect to them. there are not many gothic bands who can offer such a variety of releases. And the thing is not in its quantity (we all know guys who make tons of run-of-the-mill CDs). Each album of ITN is a masterpiece. An in the case of this release, my statement is absolutely right. “Exhibit” is “the best” of the band, created for the South America audience (who could have thought there are so many fans of ITN in Latin America that there was a need in releasing such a compilation)! Well, all “the bests” are in a way alike, it’s not easy to spoil a CD which consist of hits only, but it’s usually not interesting to listen to them. but here again comes the famous originality of ITN: the concept of the CD is very simple and at the same time very unusual. The tracks representing the 12 years of their creative work, 1986 to 1998, are not listed in the bests-traditional chaotic order; instead, they follow the strict chronological order of appearance. This gives us the unique opportunity to assess the progress of the band: from the direct pathetic minimalism of “Guarded Rites” (album “Koda”, 1988 - but in fact the CD starts with the intro “Timber” from “Twins”) to the vivid symphonies of tracks from “Space” and “Duality” and on to the impressive lyrical exquisiteness of “Poema” from “Lingua”. The characteristic feature is also that only listening to this CD you realize how the sound of the band changes with Dolores Marguerite C - she introduced a mystic aura to the music of ITN. Listening to this album, you travel in time through ”Twins", "Koda", "l'Esprit", "Sesudient", "Sense", "Duality", "Anatomy of a Poet", "Deco", "Feathercut" and "Lingua", and even if you haven’t been acquainted with the creative work of the band, I’m sure that you will agree with me saying that In The Nursery is one of the best existing ethereal/neo-classic bands.
IN THE NURSERY "Hindle Wakes" / (p)00 ITN Corporation
The fourth soundtrack in the discography of ITN is, in my opinion, their best cinema work. If you never happened to listen to their soundtracks before, a little help might help: although ITN music is to the point of contemporary cinema industry, (their tracks appeared in such major movies as ”Interview with the Vampire", "La Femme Nikita", "Erin Brockovich", etc.), all the four soundtrack CDs released by Humberstone bros. are music for silent movies of 20-30ies. Such activity is not exclusive: there are a lot of bands giving sound to the silent masterpieces of the past, for instance, in our country The 4:33 Ensemble was very successful in this field. But if ITN started their soundtrack creative work with the very traditional and even trivial “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (who didn’t write music for it! This cinema masterpiece is also a must with soundtrack writers, as well as Metropolis and Nosferatu), their following work is distinguished with very much originality - their soundtrack for the silent movie “Asphalt” was very interesting. The following album “Man With A Movie Camera” was a soundtrack for the movie of a Russian director Vetrov! As for the new album, “Hindle Wakes” is a British movie filmed in 1927 by Maurice Elvey, telling of the unhappy life of miss Fanny Hawthorn. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the movie, which is very sad - after all, it’s hard to perceive such a monumental piece of music (two CDs) without the picture, but I think it’s going to be no surprise for you that it’s hard to reproach ITN with anything: even without the movie part, this album sounds great, like a complete musical piece. The general sound is traditional - symphonic neo-classicism: the familiar warm strings and elegant keys, a surprising part in the style of Dixie jazz, which obviously coincided with a kind of party in the movie. A wonderful CD - but I never had any doubts about the talent of In The Nursery.
JACK OR JIVE "Kismet" / (p)00 Prikosnovenie
Every album of this Japanese duet is always a joyful event for the ones who enjoy gothic ambient of high quality. Joyful, because in all their rather long career that started in the long-gone 1989, JACK OR JIVE never released an album without full dedication to it, never let anybody speak an unflattering word about mercenariness, seeking of commercial profit or hack-work, never made their admirers feel sorry about the purchase made. And, knowing about mighty japanese capacity for work, one may think that JACK OR JIVE might have followed the steps of their compatriots and put their music to the production line, especially bearing in mind that the audience of gothic ambient is potentially wider than that of japanoise. There are plenty of examples. Those who often read our reviews are well acquainted with such person in music as KOJI ASANO, who works in different non-commercial styles and who only in the year 2000 released more albums than JACK OR JIVE throughout their existence. They seem not to think about such stuff and, having found a reliable partner in the French label Prikosnovenie, practically go on making the same music that in the beginning of the '90. Melancholic, beautiful and sad gothic ambient, filled with true feelings, together with heavenly voices of CHAKO - the main motive force of the band, that seasons their sound with certain touch of ethnics, together create an atmosphere albolutely unique. It's impossible to mix JACK OR JIVE with somebody else. The changes in music, vocal or cover design are insignificant. "Kismet" (relationship, kindred in japanese), may be is more into ambient, electronics and ritual music, but only to an ear experienced in their works. The disc is no doubt recommended to all the old fans of the band, to the admirers of female heavenly voices and to just sentitive people of delicate nature.
JUDGEMENT OF PARIS "Signal" / (p)00 Projekt: Archive
As a true music lover, the owner of Projekt Sam Rosenthal does not only find new gothic and ambient talents, but also re-releases old and forgotten ethereal/ambient albums at the specially created sub-label Projekt: Archive. Among the albums released are the early records of VIDNA OBMANA and ATTRITION, and also some albums of the great AREA and THE SLEEP OF REASON... few collectors seem to remember those names. Judgment of Paris is also rarely remembered, although in their native Minneapolis in the early 90s they were fairly well-known; nevertheless their career wasn’t too long, for they only released two albums (1992 and 1994) and then disappeared, remaining missing up till now. Well, the re-releasing of their both albums might make them come back to life. Unfortunately, I have only come across the second album re-release, which is a pity: their music is very interesting. Searching for some information on the band online, I ran into a few reviews which stubbornly compared Judgment of Paris to Dead Can Dance. This is very controversial comparison; of course, there are some traces of oriental style in their works (like cymbals and exotic percussion), but only a few tracks remind of DCD. Generally speaking, I’d link Judgment of Paris with JAPAN and a few solo works of David Sylvian, at least the vocalist is much into David Sylvian, that’s for sure. All that applies the music in general. The sound is very warm, gentle, smooth, absorbing (which is however not extraordinary for a band from Projekt). Male vocals (you could have guessed by the comparison with David Sylvian) are also very nice and beautiful. Style? Something like dream-pop. A very interesting hi-quality work, it’s a pity that is was the band’s dead-end.
LEAKH "The Wreckoming" / (p)00 Prophecy
To be honest, this CD put me in a rather awkward position. First of all, I never managed to read the title by myself, and besides, I’m still not sure whether I can call this music dark folk, although I’m very inclined to. Okay, I’ll call it dark folk, but mentioning the experimentation and creative insanity. There are: a guitar, percussion, some bass, violins, cellos and lots of sick depressive vocals. Everything is played simply, without any sophistications, in the best traditions of the genre. The band itself consists of two persons: Jimmy S. Cowen and John Just, and a couple of musicians invited to record one song. Who or what these Jimmy and Johnny are, I never came to know, but their music deserves most undivided attention from the side of qualified specialists in the area of clinical psychiatry. Such craziness and insanity is hardly found in the well-known DVAR themselves. The guitars point to the ultimate possessiveness of the musician, for he stubbornly plays one and the same tune as thought trying to drive the neighbors insane, and the rhythm (track five) reminds of some sort of hysteria accompanied by head beating against the wall. The impression produced is very uneasy, and by the end of the CD you start thinking of going to the bathroom and commit suicide (while your eyes squint looking for a victim). Yes, this is no softcore rituals, neo-shamans or vigilant apocalypsists! The cover of the album fully corresponds with the mood of its sound, the picture used was created by Jimmy himself, who had drawn a painting in the sanitarium style. And by the way, never try to understand the lyrics, written by Jimmy.
The CD is recommended to lovers of sick and depressive stuff.
P. S. To tell the truth, I come to the idea that Leakh is an experimental group trying to figure out the effects of art therapy on the obedient patients of foreign sanitariums.
LOUISA JOHN-KROL "Ariel" / (p)01 Self-Released
It is not true that pixies exist only in fairy tales! Of course, they feel awkward in the age of technologies, and they live in quite common places. Louisa John-Krol is a true pixie, living in an industrial suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Pixies are no interested in the everyday reality, so it’s no wonder they aren’t very good at dealing with music industry. Louisa’s first album “Argo” never found its listener, the second one, “Alexandria”, was released at a German label “Hyperium” during its hard times, and the promo campaign was very weak. All that made Louisa release the third one, “Ariel”, herself. So why do I call her a pixie? It’s very simple: she makes wonderful music, as a lover of female vocals, I confess I was bowled over by this album! “Alexandria” already was not bad, but this CD is a real masterpiece. There are many vocalists and many nice female voices in the world, but the impression produced on the listener depends on how fully does the singer give in to the music. On this CD, Louisa gave herself fully to the music, it is heard in every sound, in every little tune. Being a professional fairytaler (no kidding: Louisa is member of the Australian Fairytaler Guild), she tell wonderful stories, taking you to the world of her magic. If you like the style and creations of Lorena McKennitt, Kate Price & Carolene Lavelle, this album will not cease to impress you.
THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN "Out of the Mists" / (p)01 Middle Pillar Presents
What a wonderful thing is an enhanced CD! I’m happy to know that there are more and more of them every day, and yet more happy to hold one of them in my hands. When I do get my hands upon one, I start the acquaintance with the video. This is the nicest thing about such CDs: often music accompanied by video produces a deeper impression and atmosphere. Having watched the new video by THE MACHINE IN THE GARDEN, "The Unaware", I was surprised: first of all, the music has become much spookier, and the same is right about the video. Created in the style of The Blair Witch, it’s strange and nervous, and it does produce an impression. After it I was really ready to listen to the album. The characteristic thing is, that on this album we have the opportunity of getting into the darker side of the band’s creative work. Their previous album, “One Winter’s Night”, was romantic, melancholic and sensual, but the new one is sooner sick, gloomy and dark. I do not know what caused such metamorphosis in the sound, but I confess that I liked this CD more than the previous one, even despite the fact that is less easy to listen to in contrast to it. Here the famous darkwave sound is polished to the slightest detail, the thick sound creating an impression of tension, is exquisitely decorated by the colorful vocals of Summer Bowman. I’d like to specially mention the vocals: fortunately, Summer was lucky to escape the fate of most darkwave singers, who sing beautifully but without soul - her vocals enchant you with their emotionality. I only fear one thing: the numerous lovers of the band might blame the CD for its sadness and perplexity. If this happens, I’m going to be very upset.
MIRA "Mira" / (p)00 Projekt
The “Number One American Ethereal Label” released one more gothic ethereal project. Unfortunately, you’re not going to listen to any revelations from Mira. All their material is trying to copy such commercial bands as CRANES and COCTEAU TWINS. From time to time the sound like LOVE SPIRALS DOWNWARDS (which I believe to be the best on Projekt). The only thing which makes them different from the above bands, is the heaps of disadvantages. The female “heavenly” vocals (the so-called main instrument in such kind of music) is very mediocre, the music is monotonous and not too expressive, the technique is as trivial as non-original. To cut the long story short, this is a very mediocre release, although vigilant lover of such style might like it.
MORE "Different Points of View" / (p)00 More
Some of you might remember the Italian gothic rock band called “BLOODING MASK”. It was never too popular, but the material was quite fine and for a long time I even had it somewhere in the prestigious positions of my own gothic chart. The band has been dead for some time, but there is an excuse of remembering about it today: the album I’m going to tell you about was recorded by “More”, the band created by the former guitarist of “Blooding Mask” Gianmarco Bellumori. To tell the truth, the comparison between the two isn’t flattering for “More”.of the six tracks of the album, only three were recorded at the studio: the first is a pop-gothic-rock, something like late GENE LOVES JEZEBEL, the second track is abundantly decorated with heavy guitars and female backing vocals, but neither is of any appeal. The third track is a bit more original, but not a masterpiece as well. And what a surprise! The live songs, on the contrary, are much more interesting, but, in my opinion, the band still has not found its style and the mini-album sounds rather clumsily and shapelessly.
PFRENZ-C "Dopamine Quest" / (p)00 Tragick
Looking at the cover of this CD, I was rather taken aback by the title of the band, Pfrenz-C. I don’t know why but it arouse my suspicion. I began carefully study the booklet and my suspicions gradually vanished. There were such people involved in making the album as Jarboe (ex-SWANS), B'Eirth (IN GOWAN RING), Diana McCrary (DIANA OBSCURA), Mark Spybey (DEAD VOICES ON AIR), Greg Forschler (FEAR OF DOLLS): a very representative and decent company, although it makes no guarantees that the music will be good, for there are many people yielding to the temptation of inviting a few celebrities (however, they might agree, and they might not). Whatever! The music is really good: PFRENZ-C is a project of a Brian Castillo, famous for his works with Jarboe in THE LIVING JARBOE BAND. And though he spent the whole 90s composing music, this is his first full-length release. The album is nervous, even insane (it’s a compliment), breaking from apocalyptic-folk ballads (a-la THE LEGENDARY PINK DOTS) to severe noise, and then to ambient passages with Jarboe vocals and sound collages in the style of COIL èëè NURSE WITH WOUND. One of the reviewers even called the material of this CD “psycho” - and he was actually right. A peculiar, but impressive release.
STILLIFE "Raining December" / (p)00 Stillife
Once a week I ask our respected Sergey Merenkoff whether there is anything interesting among the things sent to Gothic.Ru. Usually, there’s hardly any excitement in his voice, masterpieces are few among demos of foreign bands (and we wouldn’t be able to review them all even if we wanted very-very much), but last week Sergey was overwhelmed with emotions. From his messy speech I understood that there arrived a demo of some Russian band, which produced a deep impression on him. While he was trying to recall its name, I experienced a few minutes of torture, but when he finally brazened it out, my surprise was great. Our best and only interviewer Stanislav Ivanoff (who occasionally makes us happy by interviewing the stars of world gothic scene) sent us the album of his new project STILLIFE. There are not many goths who know that on the local and, I’m proud to say, on the international music scene Stas is known as the ex-leader of a black-metal band SUNCHARIOT. I confess I know nothing at all about their creative work, but I have heard quite a lot of comments from different people saying that SUNCHARIOT is truly the best Russian black-metal band; moreover, as far as I know, it has for some time been the only one known abroad (speaking of Russian black-metal bands, of course). I do not know how Stas’s view changed, but it seems to me that one should possess some courage and self-assurance to leave a successful band and start it all anew. STILLIFE consists of two people: Stas and a M. S., plus session musicians (keyboards, violin, drums). Listening to the debut track of the project, “Farewell”, several months ago, I had no doubts about the final result. At least, Sergey’s delight didn’t in the least surprise me. The CD is opened by a spooky symphonic intro “When Lights Go Off” which sounds very promising and really “tunes” you to listening. The two next tracks, “Farewell” and “Last Hope” reminded me of STATIC MOVEMENT/FROZEN AUTUMN in a more brutal, aggressive variant - they were the first who managed to combine the dark melancholy of darkwave and the romanticism of synth-goth. STILLIFE explore that very mysterious lands. However, such epithets as “brutal” and “aggressive” are only partly applicable here, for I was specking about the mood, not the music: FROZEN AUTUMN, with all its melancholy, has a very light mood, while STILLIFE has everything very hopeless and grim, the names of the songs speak for themselves. The next track was a surprise: "Nur Das Schweigen" reminds of ENDRAUM or GOETHES ERBEN. The absentminded piano, sad cello two expressive male vocals singing in German and English - this is indeed a gothic masterpiece, tear me apart, but this is the best thing created by Russian gothic bends throughout the history of their existence!!! "Ich Bin Zu Spat Aufgewachsen" was also a surprise: this is classical minimalism - John Cage vs. Philipp Glass, German lyrics again, it’s a very nontrivial thing for a gothic band. The absentminded track “Stay” is good, but to me it seems less strong than others. And as for the track “Raining December”, it is very complicated, I came to understand it only after a few listenings. Melancholic vocals, lounge guitar and drums, a “Gothic Twin Peaks” of some sort. And the final track, “Outside”, turned out to be the best one on the CD, maybe because of its simplicity: extremely synthesized, with many samples, it’s a great instrumental, which is rare for electro bands. The forty minutes of the CD fly like a quarter of an hour, and I was really hooked on this album, it’s very nice to get such a present in the very beginning of the year. “Raining December”, IMHO, is one of the best releases of Russian gothic/industrial bands. Developing the ideas between darkwave and synth, STILLIFE created a unique masterpiece, without any referenced to “locality” - this is one of the few Russian albums which do not in the least worse than the ones of the foreign colleagues.
SYRIAN "Sadness Deluxe" / (p)00 Syrian
I must confess that I'm not in sympathy with metal music and bands, as they are just out of my interests - just let them keep playing their "death", "black" and all that. But I believe the persons who are more dangerous are metal musicians trying to shift to gothic music - naive listeners take it as gothic music. But every case is individual - there are good examples, i.e. PARADISE LOST or TIAMAT. Young Italian gothic metal band SYRIAN, founded in 1999 (formerly known as death metal band GODCRUCIFIER) are the ones who turned into goth rather successfully. The material presented on "Sadness Deluxe", luckily doesn't have anything to do with death metal - the closest comparisons are the above mentioned PARADISE LOST and TIAMAT or maybe HIM and TO DIE FOR on the basis of a kind of post doom, called gothic metal nowadays, by adding synth-pop sounds, progressive guitars and cold wave arrangements SYRIAN try to create something special. How much did they succeed? To tell the truth, as the one who doesn't listen to the bands of such generation, I can't estimate it, but the given disc undoubtedly contains hits. For instance "Say That You Stay" - a smash hit, astounding from the first moments - I was pushing the skip back button about ten times...until I set it to the repeat. Another "synth-metal" killer is "Ultraviolet". Other tracks are to my mind a bit weaker - they are not at all bleak or uninteresting, they just shift to the background in the light of "Say That You Stay" - if one can put the whole album four points, the above mentioned track deserves five and a half. By the way, the unrivalled female vocals are also worth mentioning - but they're only serve as background ones and are present only in some tracks. Leading male vocals sounds rather strange at times, as if the vocalist has sang in a growling manner all his life and he constantly feels like shifting to such manner - I suppose if the back female vocalist (Ale-A) becomes the leading one, the band will immediately rise to the musical Olympus. All in all it's a good release and I hope that SYRIAN will not disappoint us in future as well.
THY VEILS "Immemorable" / (p)99 Thy Veils, ARC GOTIC "Decadent" / (p)00 Htonian
We continue to make our readers aware of the East European bands' activities - this time we present you two collectives from the very gothic East-European country - Romania. But I don't say that "very gothic" means great masses of worldwide famous goth bands, but the fact, that especially known gothic region called Transylvania is located in Romania. Both of the presented collectives are from Timisoara. Let's start with THY VEILS - the project of Daniel Dorobantu was founded in 1995 and the disc under review is the third release of the band. Though I don't know in what direction the previous discs were held, it seems like Daniel tries to stick to some varied style. The material presented on "Immemorable" is neo-classic with slight dark ambient and medieval inserts. One can't give direct analogies, but if to put a goal to make comparisons, that might remind early THE SOIL BLEEDS BLACK, PENITENT or at times has something from academic neoclassic like NLC and LEITMOTIV, and part of the tracks is closer to debut album of our compatriots MOON FAR AWAY (but I'm sure both of the collectives don't have any idea of each other's existence). The music is dark, tragic and extremely emotional, but it's a shame that the album is instrumental - it'd be so nice to hear lyrics in Romanian, but probably Daniel doesn't mind singing himself, as the album which followed the "Immemorable" contains vocal parts. To summarize, one can say the album is rather interesting and original, not referring to mass music. The second project I'd like to present you is ARC GOTIC and it's not a one-man-band this time, but 4-member collective. Their relation to THY VEILS is a result of friendship and collaboration - vocalist and lyrics' author of ARC GOTIC recorded vocal parts for the new album of THY VEILS. But they don't have much in common musically - ARC GOTIC is the mixture of cold wave, post punk and apocalyptic folk with traditional tunes. It might sound funny, but again one can find here comparison with Russian band - ARC GOTIC sound a bit like works of middle period by NEUTRAL from Moscow! The overall impression is the most positive - people can play, indeed and with it having their own original style. But the moment to be sorry about is that the distribution of these two releases is restricted - they surely deserve more.
VOLTAIRE "Almost Human" / (p)00 Mars Needs Music/Projekt
This one is probably the biggest cynic and joker of New-York and maybe even world gothic scene, famous painter and animator, and brilliant poet and musician, Voltaire, came back to us at the end of the year 2000 with a new album entitled "Almost Human". And of course, as was awaited, the second album continues and develops musical and poetic traditions of the first disc - "The Devil's Bris", but this time, the musician decided to mock at practically all aspects of modern life, starting from religion and ending with gothic parties, at which his songs are played. And in fact, on his first disc the mockery was directed to human passions and to be more precise, Voltaire, with unique sarcasm and blackest humor peculiar to him, sang of love and jealousy, of revenging a beloved, if he/she betrays you and how to do it so to leave unnoticed. All that was laid upon a simple but extremely smashing and soothing my heart guitar music, with funny percussion and "gypsy" violin on the background. The charismatic Voltair's vocals gave it even more charm. The second still disc contains the same hit melodies with guitars, percussion and violin. And Voltair's charismatic vocals will lead you through the reign of absurd together with unique sarcasm and humor of his lyrics, and melodies of his songs will stuck in your head for a long time. So the recipe is observed, but more ingredients were added to such a meal - the arrangements became a bit more complicated, and song topics - more diverse. This time we are to hear, among other things, about fallen angel's sufferings (Feathery Wings, Almost Human), about what God thinks of (God Thinks), of pure love of a necrophile (Dead Girls), how cool it is to rot in the grave (Underground) or to lose one's head (Headless Waltz), and also of gothic parties (Alchemy Mondays) and long awaited death (The Last World). All in all - a great deal of fun. The disc winds up with a short song in Spanish. If you're Voltaire's fan you won't be disappointed. If you like jolly sarcasm run to the music shop. If you like hit melodies order this disc at once. To characterize all that by two simple words one can say just: MUST BUY!
V/A - "Music from the Succubus Club" / (p)99 Dancing Ferret
I've always expressed my consideration, that compilations which are not just "hit collections", but conceptual ones are practically always appear to be much more interesting than their "banal analogues". Though conception is not always a guarantee of the quality of musical material, but when the conception and music form a harmonic unity such masterpieces as "Music from the Succubus Club" appear. It's not just a sampler, but a real soundtrack for a famous role-play game "Vampire: the Masquerade" - all the presented tracks are united by a vampiric theme and more of it, each of the 13 tracks is referred to a particular vampires clan of V:tM. The compilation is opened by THE CRUXSHADOWS - the main band of Dancing Ferret label, their track "Deception" is a real vampiric electro-hit (there are no "no-hit" tracks on the given compilation), with beautiful male vocals, violin, dark keyboards and dynamic rhythm. But the hit from SERAPHIM SHOCK "Prey" is more cruel and severe - brutal electro-goth - this track should accompany a massacre scene at a club, in some vampiric horror movie. One more band from Dancing Ferret - PARALYSED AGE - not electro, but modern goth-rock this time, vampiric lyrics and smash hit again. In comparison with mega-drive hits of the beginning of the compilation, the composition by WENCH sounds like a lullaby - eastern percussion and evil whispering vocals of Frances Byrne, but the calm of this lullaby is deceptive - at any rate everything might end rather pitifully, vampires act surreptitiously. The track from SUNSHINE BLIND was not much to my taste actually - to my mind their early creative activity would be more interesting, though it's hard to deny, that they fit this compilation perfectly. BELLA MORTE, who has recently released the new album on Cleopatra presented rather a romantic melodious composition - "Fall no more" - I guess there's no need to repeat it's a super-hit. CARFAX ABBEY, the band with the activity of which I got acquainted not long ago, performed an evil hard electro-goth with brutal guitars and distorted vocals. And the next track became a surprise for me - I'd have never supposed, that BEBORN BETON are close to vampire aesthetics and their track "Hemoglobin" is a characteristic synth-pop one - it would be queer to hear something different. But the song from THE MISSION U.K. appeared to be even greater surprise - Wayne Hussey's band, one of the pioneers of gothic rock, have long fallen out of my sight and I feel they shouldn't have to - the presented track "Last beat of your heart" is an energetic electro-goth. I couldn't imagine that new THE MISSION U.K. sound like that. KRISTEEN YOUNG, a young goth-star with chaotic composition "Rotting on the Vine", to say the truth, disappointed me a little bit - yes, everything is sick and nervous, but in a way boring. Vampiric compilation couldn't be full-blooded without main gothic rock vampires from NOSFERATU - "The Night is Young" has become gothic rock and vampire music classics. Melodic but cruel darkwave/synth-goth track "Blind in Darkness" from DIARY OF DREAMS also gladdened. The compilation is wound up by another unexpected band - ebm/synth-popers NEUROACTIVE - and again, despite its style, the track fits the compilation well. All in all - this is the most successful attempt to make vampire music compilation up-to-date. A quality hit collection that probably be of interest not only to gothic rock fans but also to the RPG fans as well.
V/A - "Orphee" / (p)00 Projekt
Projekt's compilations have always gladdened me by non-trivial approach to the material and conceptuality. This refers to almost all the compilations - "Excelsis", "A cat-shaped hole in my heart", "Beneath the icy floe", "Seireenia" etc. All of them demonstrated the exquisite taste of the Projekt label's owner Sam Rosenthal (also frontman of BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL). And "Orphee" compilation wasn't a disappointment either - for many gothic music fans the words Projekt and ethereal are almost synonyms (it's become truly so, bearing in mind that Hyperium has left the scene). But ethereal means not only female vocals - it's a special mood. Probably, that's what Sam Rosenthal was going to show, creating the "Orphee" compilation (which is a brother compilation of "Seireenia", released last year), which is characterized in press release as "introspective descent into the male soul" and presents ethereal/ambient male vocals only compositions. But in fact everything is even more complicated - this is not just a compilation of ethereal tracks with male vocals but an attempt to present the artists who influenced gothic music together with modern groups on one compilation. It's hard to reject the influence of some bands like ULTRAVOX on early goth-bands (the track of ULTRAVOX leader John Foxx "Splendour" is presented) , JAPAN (presented by the track "Nostalgia") - great many gothic bands search for the inspiration in the works of David Sylvian. And Sylvian's ex-band-mates also were not left unnoticed - JANSEN/BARBIERI "Ringing the bell backwards". Further on, one is to name early gothic bands presented on the compilation - HUMAN DRAMA, TONES ON TAIL, JUDGEMENT OF PARIS, CHRISTIAN DEATH (with Rozz Williams vocals), PIETER NOOTER/ MICHAEL BROOK (ex-CLAN OF XYMOX) and the observation is to be ended by younger ones (though it's relative) BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL, UNTO ASHES, AUDRA, PETER ULRICH (DEAD CAN DANCE percussionist) and SOUL WHIRLING SOMEWHERE. The homogeneity of the compilation is amazing - it's perceived as the wholesome album. I don't know whether it's good or not, but it's becoming evident that young collectives sound closer to masters of the genre. The ones who really impressed me were PETER ULRICH, TONES ON TAIL, DAVID SYLVIAN, HUMAN DRAMA, JUDGEMENT OF PARIS, UNTO ASHES - though the disc is compiled in such a way, that it's perceived so that there arises no wish to point out anybody. Excellent compilation, pleasantly gladdening by the original collection and truly artistic approach to the compiling of it.
ANTISISTERS "Black Wine" / (p)00 Demo
I've been a kind of an audio nihilist for quite a long time, considering that audio-source, quality of the recording and equipment don't matter much, but the music does. Time proved the deficiency of such point of view and the last true example is the case with ANTISISTERS. Approximately half a year ago an unsightly audio tape without a cover and some poor bits of info in a note arrived at the address of RGP. That was ANTISISTERS' demo. Doomed to listen a great many different demos and albums, I took a deep breath preparing to listen to a "masterpiece" of another Russian band previously unknown to me. But the situation was far from being miraculous. After listening to the tape for three times, I understood, that it arose no emotions in me - neither positive, nor negative and in such situation it's impossible to write a review for the aim of reviewing is not making poor reports on the length of tracks and band's history. The true aim is to convey the emotions of the reviewer during the record's audition. I gave the cassette to one of our reviewers hoping that inspiration would descend upon him, but again no miracle happened - so the review on this demo didn't appear. But why am I talking about some miracle? Because it happened for the third time - having absolutely forgotten about the band's activity, I downloaded couple of mp3's from their page at mp3.com to be pleasantly surprised by the dynamic electronic sound. This fact lead to the invitation of ANTISISTERS to perform at the third Halloween Party: Edge of the Night. And it should be mentioned that the performance was rather effective. Why did I start this review with a boring introduction about the "cassette"? Because many Russian bands just don't give a damn about the sound quality! It's clear that not many of them can afford a quality recording but I guess it's possible to spend some money on CD-R! The above mentioned facts resulted in such a delay of ANTISISTERS' info appearing on gothic.ru and it could have not appeared at all. So what have we got there on Gromov bros. demo (ANTISISTERS, by the way, isn't a kind of anti-gothic title a la Anti-SISTERS OF MERCY - it is to be understood as "Not sisters" but "Brothers"). Ten tracks are presented - five of them are studio recorded and other five were recorded live at "TOCHKA" club at the Edge of the Night III party. Due to the fact that four of the tracks are both in studio and live variants one has a chance to compare the sound of the band in "greenhouse" and live conditions - and one must admit that the difference is minimal, though it's hard to expect something else from electronic based band. The overall style is something like dark electro/darwave, dark electronic sound is spiced with drive guitars and malignant vocals - many bands work in such direction, but one can't blame ANTISISTERS in copying. Everything is quite original, though doesn't lack some drawbacks - the material is a little bit "dry" and too rigid and some tracks resemble each other too much. But the band has got real hits - for instance the German-language track "Zotenhaft Einsamkeit" (something hints me the forthcoming expansion of Russian gothic bands into the sphere of German language lyrics) and also "My Dead Friends Are Here". It is difficult to view this demo as an "album", but judging by it, it's evident that ANTISISTERS have serious potential. Let's hope, they'll manage to release it.
DEONDA "Life Anthem" E.P., "Death" E.P. / (c) 98/99 Deonda
As this Swedish trio has sent us a couple of its EPs, so we'll speak about both of them simultaneously, in single review. Now then, the first disc "Life Anthem" was released in far gone 1998 in its original line-up, when five people were playing in the band. Up to the release of the second disc their ranks significantly thinned out and only three ones remained. The music of this collective represents dynamic and nowadays rather minimalistic gothic rock with drum machine instead of drummer and rare insets of keyboards somewhere on the background. Male vocals are good, but nothing special at all. The majority of the compositions on the given disc is quite fast or at least midtempo, although there is a couple of "lyric", slow pieces. This is the debut product of DEONDA. As for the second disc under the superoriginal name "Death", it almost doesn't differ from its predecessor, except the altered line-up and heavier guitar sound, apparently the band decides to follow with-it music trends. I can't say that this fact adorns or to the contrary impairs the music - nothing changes with the "hardening" of compositions, it's the same driving gothic-rock, now sounding more aggressive. It seems to me that the given pieces will interest only the scanty circle of fans of gothic-rock and nothing more, as the wide audience will perceive these releases as something drab. In a one word - this product is not for the masses...
DIKHANIE "Demo 2" / (p)00 Dikhanie
The band DIKHANIE has rather a strange status on local gothic scene - on the one hand, the band giving enough performances seems to be rather an active one, and on the other hand it's hard to say the band is so famous to have an army of fans. I suppose it's the result of the following reasons: unstable line-up and indefiniteness of repertoire. The only constant project's member is charismatic leader Dima Borisov (aka Yura Zviozdniy) and other members come and go and come again leading to changes in the sound. Brutal female guitar player Alia, brought a share of post-punk madness to the band's music, Yura himself is more space-pop oriented and the presence of a live drummer at live performances added dynamism. Darkwave, space-pop, synth-goth, trip-wave and perhaps a dozen more various terms describing "dark" music styles can be mentioned to characterize their sound in different periods of their activity. This lead to DIKHANIE's acquiring an amorphous image, because of free style changes and no certain idea which style to stick to. And truly, this chaotic development is not a plus. I must confess, I've also lost my interest to DIKHANIE. But their performance at one of the "Industrial Meetings" of Denis Vasiliev made my apathy vanish. Always efficient and official Dima Borisov at synthesizers, melancholic Eugene Voronovski (NEUTRAL/ CISFINITUM) who suddenly appeared in DIKHANIE's line-up and female vocalist in black dress with dishevelled hair - the first thought which occurred to me was: "That's our domestic ATTRITION!" Their gigs gladdened me a lot - in fact, the closest analogy was the famous British darkwave project ATTRITION, which I do love. Some time later, I received this demo CD. While handing it to me, Dima said, that the album was soon to be released on the Italian label Radio Luxor due to KIRILIAN CAMERA's support. Here's the second key word in my review - these two projects are the ones to which the new creation of DIKHANIE can be compared. The mixture of ATTRITION and KIRILIAN CAMERA is original enough, but Dima wouldn't have been himself if he hadn't flavored all that with his favorite space-age, new-wave and characteristic 80's sounds. The latter fact added spice to their music material. Here are the pleasant moments: it's so nice that Mr. Borisov shifted the share of vocal parts to the gentle shoulders of Natasha N. (it's nice 'cause I've never liked Dima's vocals), who managed to cope with this task successfully - of course it didn't do without band founder's vocals, but it was accurately filtered by various analogue effects and that did a lot of good. Again, in comparison with the debut demo recorded couple of years ago (the review is in the gothic.ru archive) the quality of sound and arrangements is much better. Some tracks, for example "Goodbye Agony" and "Brook under the Ice", presented also on the first band's demo, sound hundred percent better. It's a pity that the new demo is also quite short - only 36 minutes (6 tracks) and this time DIKHANIE appears as a mature collective with its peculiar sound closer to synth-goth/darkwave. I hope the band will continue to work on their sound and arrangements, not embarking on wanderings in the dark in future. Anyway, for me DIKHANIE has become one of the main hopes of Russian gothic scene.
JEANETTE TEARS "Demo" / (p) 00 Jeanette Tears
Some time ago I discovered a package from Penza in my mail box, which contained a disc entitled "Jeanette's Tears". The association with the title of the song by NO MAN'S LAND immediately appeared in my mind and it wasn't a coincidence. The applied letter informed that this was the first demo-release of the band, called after NO MAN'S LAND'S track. I should say I am surprised for this is the first case in Russian gothic subculture when a band takes its name after the self-titled track by another more famous project. And surprise was not only in the name of the band but also in musical contents of the package. The first short track called "Condition" arose strong associations with the first CAPRICE album called "Mirror" and these associations didn't leave me till the end of the disc. I don't know why it is so, either it is similar vocal manner or strange Russian lyrics and leading violin or anything else. But still, it's a fact that the given disc reminds (at least to me) the first CAPRICE album, though the musical material doesn't sound that much alike. Female vocals and violin build the basis of the music and are always on the leading positions, being accompanied by percussion, guitar and bass. The majority of the tracks is very melancholic, slow and sad, and only at the end of the album there are faster and livelier tracks. Russian lyrics are rather vague and strange. I don't consider them to be a strong element of the album, but some of the texts are really good (the track "Galaxies" for instance). Female vocals, as I've already mentioned, remind I.Brezhestovskaya's manner, and I present this fact as positive characteristics. Though the musicians apologized for the bad recording quality, but to my mind everything's not so bad and for the first demo-tape the quality is more than satisfactory. To sum up I'd like to say that the material, present by the musicians is rather strong and rather perspective, though not all songs are successful ones. Russian lyrics are, to my mind, not always good (and I believe English lyrics would fit much better). But these little drawbacks don't diminish the merits of the whole production. At last, one is to wish the guys not to stop where they successfully started and God help me see the full-length disc of Jeannette's Tears inside my post box.
SOLAR SALT "Rastalkivaya Sny" / (p)00 Solar Salt
This is a native ideological project, which has already found reputation in its Motherland, well-known to home and foreign listeners by the participation on "Ten Years of Madness" compilation. Now it presents the debut full-length work "Rastalkivaya Sny" (Outerpretation of Dreams). The album is completely held in dark-ambient vein, with partial experimental and rhythm&noise insertions. Deep ambient sketches, industrial collages, monotonously pulsating rhythms, nice melodies - all that is graciously blended in order to create dark and truly enchanting atmosphere. Album title speaks for itself - from the very first minutes the music is putting you in hypnotic state and could be perfectly used for the meditative exercises. A "must have" for the admirers of experimental futuristic industrial (in the vein of MAEROR TRI, INADE, DEAD VOICES ON AIR)! It is also worth mentioning that the album is supplied with lyrics and the leaflet from National Bolshevist Party.