VARIOUS ARTISTS
UNDER THE RAYS OF THE NIGHT SUN (Shadowplay)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer

If any of you feel like turning off when I say this is a Russian compilation of the best music being made in their ever-growing scene, thatís because you have no genuine interest in Goth as an important artistic musical genre, and just like fashionable aspects which apply to your area. Small scene, small mind. You may depart now, and come back when I am reviewing something you understand.

For the true Goth devotee one of the most intrinsic elements of Goth is the mystery and adventure, of discovering new delights, which you will certainly find here, as this huge cross-section of talent has very little in the way of rock or crass ebm stylists, but is heavily into attractive modern mood and melody. A lot is in English, and what is in Russian still manages to be languorous, evocative and spellbinding.

Side 1 (Dusk) is wonderful. The voice chokes on ashes in Stillife as they mix shuffle beats with classical, building serenely and making it clear why they have been voted Best Band in the Russian scene. Antisisters do secretive dark dance, Theodor Bastard ululate and vibrate in sepulchral surrounds, there are flickering electro pleasantries from Izida in a city noir escapade, and Darkwave veterans Necro Stellar are very up and bouncy, keeping busy even when it turns dour. Dvar is a bit too diverting for the Russian Sopor Aeternus tag heís got, and Virtual Serverís Xymox remix is an arty relaxative. The odd track is Requiem For FM which is old techno, and the ridiculously catchy Hallucinations For Two donít strike me as particularly dark, but it is a great collison of sweeping dance and gritty guitar. Cruci-Fiction are a merging of Goth and something called ĎLove-Metalí which creates spruce rock with passionate vocals, and Para Bellum are unusual Goth Rock with a distinctively picky guitar style which keeps everything interesting behind rousing Russian vocals. Unholy Guests some of you should already know and love. A curious commercial suss rolls inside their delightful attack, Doppelganger give quite a mental rock approach, straight in there, but with a sophisticated edge. The true independent stalwart that is Children Of The Gun also proves you can be simpler in tone and arrangement than most but make just as strong an impact, if not more so, being strangely affecting. There is classical beauty from Bless, desolate plain drama from Vidna Nebo and it closes with the neo-classical drone of Moon Far Away which has added modern twists.

The ĎDawní side wasnít quite so much to my tastes, because thereís a greater variety here of some of the more extreme elements. Canonis are graceful and stirring, with something happily alien to my ears, which is why foreign compilations can be so exciting, as you encounter something new, and you have to love those sharp vocals. Caprice, who apparently have two albums out already yon Prikosnovenie, are absolutely stunning, with gorgeous vocals in a standard Ethereal manner, but of the highest quality imaginable. Drolls are lunatics who offer convincing medieval romps, and then thereís some melancholic folk from Romone Mikotto, followed by the still mysteries of occultists Kratong-TD. Sandcastle are fabulous, rich in emotional suggestion and she is proud to admit to Lycia being a strong influence. Emily A. Saaen offers similarly seasoned, sumptuously restful music. Neutral, and later a track by Languor, have acoustic stylings of the warm variety which bring Ataraxia to mind, which his no bad thing.

Where I got a bit bored was with the drab electronics of Cyclotimia, the Industrial Experimentation of Vishudha Kali, the occult drippings of Majdanek Waltz and the serious Neo-folk statements of Wolfsblood. I never like any of these forms, and particularly not neo-folk, and the reason is demonstrated by the very next track, from Laklustre Mirror, which is instantly full of life and intelligence and romance and compassion, not some barking mad grim-faced tortured loon. Blood & Sand are more like attractive slow indie to me, with lovely interwoven voices, Embrace Of Branches give us dark classical folk, where the strong clear vocal and strings make it charming, and then it all finishes with some magical ambient work by Anthesteria who must be insane. He has people very naturally interest in his work, but limited his release to just fifty copies!!!!

Honestly, itís all in here, to be examined, and new favourites to be found. A genuinely magnificent compilation.
 

STILL LIFE  Disillusions
ANTISISTERS Sudden Kiss
THEODOR BASTARD Pustola
IZIDA A Hypnotic Attraction
NECRO STELLAR Mange Morts
DVAR Hissen Raii V.2
VIRTUAL SERVER Wide Awake
REQUIEM FOR FM Devouring Element
HALLUCINATIONS FOR TWO Nix Et Nox
CRUCI-FICTION Black Suicide
PARA BELLUM Light
THE UNHOLY GUESTS Dark Dancefloor
DOPPELGANGERS Kiss To My Last Breath
CHILDREN OF THE GUN Umbrella man
BLESS Il Pleut
VIDNA NEBO Unsleep
MOON FAR AWAY Witchcraft By A Singing
CANONIS Cold Sea
CAPRICE To My Sisters
DROLLS In Taberna
ROMOWE RIKOTO Song Of Prosperine
KRATONG TD Experience
SANDCASTLE Ad Astra
EMILY A. SAAEN At Sunset
NEUTRAL Festival
CYCLOTIMA Same Place
VISHUDHA KALI Bury Me
MAJDANEK WALTZ Love As A Whip Strike
WOLFSBLOOD The Cranes
LAKLUSTRE MIRROR Mother Is Going Home
LANGUOR The Purpose Wells
BLOOD & SAND For Faith
EMBRACE OF BRANCHES What Kind Of Loss
ANTHESTERIA Eidolon

http://www.shadowplay.com
I will recommend a few urls for the bands I liked best (unfortunately Izida, Children Of The Gun, Canonis, and Sandcastle donít have sites listed):

STILLIFE http://www.stillife.ru
NECRO STELLAR http://necrostellar.gotik.ru
HALLUCINATIONS FOR TWO http://h42.nm.ru
THE UNHOLY GUESTS http://www.the-unholy-guests.com
CAPRICE http://www.caprice-music.com
EMILY A. SAAEN http://www.emilysaaen.ru
LAKLUSTRE MIRROR http://lacklustre.ath.cx
ANTHESTERIA http://anthesteria.stillclouds.com

08/01/04