1)Aepril Schaile and the Judgement-The Furies Prayer
The debut from this underappreciated avant-garde group is a darkly mesmerizing and frantically powerful masterpiece that may frighten some people. Aepril Schaile’s intense and threatening piano virtuoso and her wailing and theatrical vocals are vindictive throughout the album, which in turn aggravate the unsettled and demonic nature of the music. Fans of Diamanda Galas may check out this release.
2)Crimson Tears-The Dark Awakening !
The first full-length album from this less known symphonic/melodic metal band from UK features some of the strongest songwriting I have heard in this clichéd genre. Every song boasts an interesting arrangement, with catchy melody lines and memorable choruses performed by the very competent female vocalist. A very enjoyable album!
3)Funeral Dusk- O Rubor Sanguinis
This dark neo-classical act from Colombia takes influences from the medieval, baroque and classical periods and composes orchestral pieces that express feelings of pessimism and sorrow. The piano cadenza in the middle of the opening track “Vampyric Waltz” is exciting enough to lure audience to take a listen of his music.
4)Lendi Vexer- The Process of Disillusion !
This Argentinean trip hop duo composes music that manifests the trademark elements of the old-school Bristol Trip Hop movement: languid female vocals, plump and rolling trip hop beats and darkly cinematic orchestration. This debut is an apt echo of the trip hop classic, Portishead’s Dummy.
This is probably the best kept secret in the heavenly voices/ethereal genre, and is my best discovery in 2009. Their self-titled debut is melancholic and brooding; wherein heavenly female vocals are accompanied by the mournful violin, the folkish guitar, minimalistic percussions and church bells. Their work reminds me acts such as Dead Can Dance, Dark Sanctuary, Artesia and Ordo Equitum Solis. I look forward to hearing more materials from these Polish sisters.
I am very impressed by Renaud’s supple and crystalline soprano on her debut EP “Les Amants Solitaires”. Her follow up is even more beguiling and effusive. Supported by a string quartet, “Colouers” is an aesthetic mix of chanson, downtempo, chamber work, and neo-baroque with a modern flavor.
7)The Beat Of Black Wings- Ad Noctem
This defunct German group was always ambitious and ballsy to incorporate different elements and styles into their music. “Ad Noctem” was an impressive hodgepodge of darkwave, dark-electro, ambient, experiment, gothic rock, heavenly voices and neo-folk. Despite of some less refined moments, “Ad Noctem” is a scrumptious dark romantic wave album, which reminds me bands such as God’s Bow and Beltane.
8)The Shadow Dance-Temple
This is the only release from this now sadly defunct gothic rock band hailing from Finland. They gained their cult status from their appearance on the classic gothic rock compilation “Goth Box”. Their music is atmospheric and whirling, which is undergirded by reverbing layers of enticing female vocals, soporific guitars and floating keyboards. This EP will surely appease fans of female-fronted gothic rock bands such as Mephisto Waltz, Excession and especially Stare.
9)Trees Dance-Sweet Are The Clouds
Before forming the legendary Heavenly Voices group Speaking Silence, Carla Picchiantano was once the vocalist of the defunct indie group Trees Dance. “Sweet Are The Clouds” is the only album they ever made and it sounds like a less orchestrated version of the debut of Speak Silence. Although the recording is far from perfect, it does not hinder the pleasure of listening to Carla’s extraordinary vocal stunt.
This is the only album released by this much unknown dream pop trio. Their music can be described as ethereal dream pop with a gothic sensibility, and is built upon the sonorous combinations of obscure ethereal female voices, swirling and shimmering guitars, looming and cavernous basslines and ruthless and sparse drum machines. This release will appeal to fans of Cocteau Twins, Lycia and Love Spirals Downwards.
5 other names:
Formed by ex-members of Eternalux, Dirty is an electronic project that mixes trip hop, techno, industrial, ethnic beats and pop music. The spotlight of this album is the both powerful but ethereal presence of the female vocal Christie Day.
12)Crushed-The Closed Room
Crushed is a collaborative project between Larrisa Dalle (ex-Collaborateur) and members of the East Ash. The Closed Room is a high quality alternative pop EP which combines features of these two groups: moody electronic trip hop from Collaborateur and indie shogazer rock from East Ash.
13)Faded Sympathy-Faded Sympathy
Formed by the bassist of Stare, Faded Sympathy is a gothic rock outfit fronted by an ethereal female voice. Their music is dark and moody, and is very similar to a less reverbed Stare. It saddens me that they have already disbanded in 2010.
This rather unknown German darkwave duo from the 90s interestingly mixes modern electronic darkwave beats with sacred Georgian chants. Their music is a reminiscence of Qntal or even work from Nicholas Lens.
15)Where I Wake Warm- Where I Wake Warm
Where I Wake Warm is a dream pop/ shoegazer act, whose wispy female voice has been featured on the compilation “Heavenly Voices III”. Their self-titled EP, the only record they have ever made, is a blissful and swaying 90s-sounding shoegazer release featuring the ethereal voice of Linda Reilly.
Finally I have completed these two lists. Not sure if I will continue writing them in 2010, anyhow, I look forward to listening to more interesting releases in 2010, although my passion has been slipping away a bit lately.