Dreams of the Surreal
Part One: vidnaObmana
~by Blu
(photos courtesy of the vidnaObmana website)

Internationally acclaimed for his work with ambient, electronic, ethnic and avant-garde music, vidnaObmana is making a much anticipated tour through Europe and the US this fall/winter to the delight of long time fans in support of his new solo project released on Hypnos Records. For those not yet familiar with vidnaObmana there is a rich musical history to discover. Having released some 30 individual CDs, a vinyl albumn, 4 cassettes and appearing on over 50 compilations and collaborative efforts; this Belgian musician is forever creating, discovering and continuing to evolve on a fantastic journey through sound, visions and emotions. In these adventures, vidna's worked with international musicians such as chant master Jim Cole, Steve Roach, Belgian guitarist Serge Devadder, Dutch organist Willem Tanke, Belgian jazz musician Joris De Backer, Italy's Capriolo Trifoglio and Diego Borotti and Robert Rich.

His music having been described as more visual than conceptual, vidna often uses his own photography on his CDs to enhance the tone of the work. More recently, he's been working with wife Martine Verhoeven and her inspiring organic photography. A collection of her photographs titled Circles and Artifacts, was released on CD as a multi-media computer presentation designed for PCs. This CD unites her work with an exclusive soundtrack by vidna and Steve Roach.  Linda Kohanov also contributes stunningly appropriate poetry. This limited release (1,000 copies) is available through vidnaObmana's Contemporary Harmonic label. In addition to his own label (Contemporary Harmonic), vidna has worked with such well known entities as Hypnos Records, Projekt, Soleilmoon, Highgate, Multimood, Mirage and Musica Maxima Magnetica.

vidnaObmana's latest project is a two-part solo effort: part one - The Surreal Sanctuary (released Feb 2000) and part two- The Contemporary Nocturne (released Oct 2000). Exploring new ground and incorporating the use of electronic guitar, double bass, overtone singing and the overtone flue - the Fujara; he travels through a unique atmospheric story leaving the first CD open-ended and unresolved and the second CD its release and finale.

Making a rare four appearances in the US; vidna kindly took a moment to indulge StarVox with an interview about his musical vision and his upcoming tour. We are profoundly grateful for his time and will be reviewing his show in Portland in November so check back with us then for more!

StarVox: To date Vidna Obmana is only making 4 U.S. appearances on this tour -- what prompted these specific cities?

vidnaObmana: Well, as this music genre clearly distinguishes itself from a regular major tour every concert is a kind of ritual and which I want to fulfill focused and with a strong sense for spontaneity and new elements.  Each of the 4 concerts I'm doing will have its own exclusive setting and content and since I also experienced my music isn't suitable for any kind of space, I do take great pride in selecting the best venues.  I personally want to have the music presented in its best condition while I also enjoy performing the sound. With just having the right amount of concerts and at the right places, I do hope to come near to realizing this.

StarVox:  In a recent news/email update, it was announced that Steve Roach would be joining you for the Portland show which is truly exciting to me -- how did this come about? Does this mean we can expect to hear some songs that you and Steve have collaborated on together in the past performed live?

vidnaObmana: As performing solo is a very strange and intense experience, so can be collaborating with another musician on stage a drama but with Steve I always had a very fine experience.  We both understand, respect and anticipate each other's vision in sound to such a detailed degree that performing together live on stage opens a door of interesting possibilities.  I just supported Steve during his concert at the E-live festival in The Netherlands and we just really felt good about it afterwards.  The dialogue was so fresh, inspiring and magical that we found it was time to set this again in motion.  And my concert in Portland is the right moment.

Well, I'll leave it a bit up to the evening itself but we'll definitely do some of our solo and collaborative pieces blended together with the actual exchange of the moment itself.  And we've a few other surprises lined-up as well.

StarVox:  I also noted that the venue's for these performance are not your run of the mill venues -- for example, The Old Church in Portland -- is it safe to say the venues were very consciously chosen so that they added to the ambiance of the performance?

vidnaObmana: Correct as I already explained a bit of my motivation in your first question.  The venues I prefer to perform at are definitely not the most standard ones as I truly find, without hopefully being elite, my music comes alive in spaces like churches, ruins (where I performed at in August this year), caves and smaller theatres.  I can't explain it really but indeed, the venues absolutely compliment the atmosphere of the music and in a way it also prepares the audience for enjoying and appreciating the music in a multi-dimensional way. So I absolutely look forward to the creation of sound at the Old Church in Portland and prior to that at St-Mary's Church in Philadelphia.

StarVox: You released some works on Projekt that fit well into their mix of ethereal/ambient releases; but have since ventured out on solo projects, pursued some self releases with Steve, and lately, joined Hypnos Records. I understand this move was reflective of the different direction your music is taking -- what are your hopes in that regard?

vidnaObmana: Well, I'm very realistic about this and my hopes are pretty sober in terms of how this may affect the success and appreciation of my music.  Projekt has been, and still is, a fine home for my creative outings and they will release early next year the Subterranean Collective (the reissue of Parallel Flaming, Echoing Delight and The Spiritual Bonding) on their Projekt:Archive.

Portland's Hypnos however has been another rewarding step in my evolution as an artist as Mike Griffin's respectful support of my latest course in sound was quite exceptional and fruitful.  My latest solo work, the double CD release of The Surreal Sanctuary and The Contemporary Nocturne, has been demanding a lot from myself emotionally and artistically and when I realized it became a very challenging work, Hypnos became a natural choice. You see, my path in creating music has always been diverse.  From the pure & minimal atmospheric soundscapes, my recent avant-garde-like and recycling experiments to the ethnic/tribal music and this kind of diversity has granted me the freedom to work together with various labels from different regions like Multimood from Sweden and Soleilmoon from Portland or self-produce a particular project.

StarVox:  On your new solo project, you focus somewhat on the overtone flute called the Fujara. For fans who many not be familiar with this instrument, what makes it so rare and why did you chose to feature it in this project?

vidnaObmana: Yes, the Fujara is definitely the most valuable addition to my collection of instruments.  From day one I've been clearly fascinated by overtones and subtones and have been exploring these regions with synthesizers, acoustic and now Fujara and processing. The Fujara is a rare East-European wooden instrument with only 3 fingerholes and of which the harmony in sound is created by using breathing techniques and voice and the sound is quite chilling, both in the higher and lower frequencies. I already used the Fujara to some degree on my 1998 solo album Crossing the trail but the time was just ripe when I initiated the recordings of The Surreal Sanctuary.  Despite the fact it looks like a very limited flute, it has a rich and complex tone range, suitable for longer atmospheric pieces or in more rhythmical sections.  With my current Fujara experience, I really felt comfortable to accentuate the focus even more and place this instrument and its variations in the center of the new series of concerts. Partially on both my solo albums this year and more up-front in concert and for my 2001 album, I'm working around the Fujara with a variety of sounds but it's actually the Fujara, pure or shaped through different recycling and processing techniques, with which I hope to mark my new work as wilful and apart from my previous music.

StarVox:  You've worked on a lot of collaborative efforts, this post-production and textural layering of Dreams in Exile one of the most recent -- what motivates you to work with other musicians? what do you get out of the process?

vidnaObmana: The last couple of years were indeed booked to the maximum with collaborative projects and this was  an intentional and  important stage in my evolution as an artist.  You see such successful collaborations really work inspiring and I was lucky I met up with some very fine musicians who also wanted to walk the same path.  The satisfaction of those projects led me to work with focus on my solo work and this will remain so for several of the upcoming projects and ideas I want to map out. I do feel the exchange with Dreams In Exile is quite different and very inspiring.  I never worked with sound in more song-like compositions and this was really a fine moment to initiate this learning process.

From the first moment Corey and Kirk of Dreams in Exile contacted me, I knew this was going to be an interesting fusion of thoughts on music. Their music definitely encouraged me and in a way conducted me to interact with the songs strict according to their structure.  Otherwise, applying my recycling and processing techniques onto their vocals and guitar parts has been quite interesting and educational. Luckily, the exchange of ideas and results have been more than satisfying since Corey and Kirk granted me an immense freedom to interact with their songs on a productional and musical level. Their debut Since Long Before CD album was just the initiation while we recently have been going deeper into the realm of possibilities and I'm just enthusiastic and motivated to continue this with Dreams In Exile.

(editor's note: special thanks to Kirk and Corey from Dreams in Exile --see also Part Two: Dreams in Exile and their CD Review)

vidnaObmana concerts lined-up for 2000:

Belgium :
October the 21st 2000, Cultureel Centrum Jan Van Der Noot in Brecht, Belgium

November the 4th 2000, St-Mary's Church in Philadelphia
November the 5th 2000, Live Radio Performance on Star's END, WXPN - Philadelphia
November the 6th 2000, Wilde Auditorium in West-Hartford, Connecticut with guest appearance by Jim Cole
November the 9th 2000, The Old Church,  Portland, Oregon with special guest appearance by Steve Roach

Check the website for details.
music ~ photography ~ events
experience the vidnaObmana anthology at mp3.com/vidnaobmana
webmaster : lyon@pandora.be

Dreams of the Surreal
Part Two: Dreams in Exile
~by Blu
(photos courtesy of Dreams in Exile)

Dreams in Exile is a two-man band residing in Portland, Oregon who are one of those bands, upon listening to, inspired the thought, "Why haven't I heard about them before?" I first reviewed a three song demo from them (see August's archives) and was impressed beyond words with the quality of their musicianship. They present a unique blend of ambient/darkwave/folk that is as uplifting as it is sometimes beautifully sad and is comparable in aesthetics to the likes of Dead Can Dance and Delirium. Their songs, magical and full of fantasy and nature, create worlds unto themselves and atmospheres for the listener to escape in.

But don't take my word for it. Take internationally admired ambient/experimental musician vidnaObmana's word. vidnaObmana, upon hearing this duo's creations, offered his services to them in the area of collaboration and production adding textures and putting the finishing touches on their songs for their first full length release Since Long Before. Curious as to how a band without a full length release had secured the endorsement and help of such a great composer, I set out to find out for myself as Kirk and Corey indulged me in an interview.

(Editor's note: vidnaObmana will play a rare West Coast concert in Portland on November the 9th 2000 at The Old Church with special guest appearance by Steve Roach. You can bet that Kirk and Corey will be in attendance. This concert, I'd dare say, will be one of the best you'll see this year. vidnaObmana plays four other US cities in November - please check his website for the latest information).

StarVox: For our readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your music?

Dreams in Exile: Our music is definitely a sort of fusion. Our use of harmonies, acoustic and electric guitars, and certain song structures is certainly 'rockish'; however, to this we fuse ambient/atmospheric elements. The result is sometimes bright, other times shadowy, but always textured, rich, and possessing a sense of depth not common in more structured forms of songwriting.

Neither of our individual song writing or guitar playing styles derive too directly from anyone. Like many others, we hope to exist outside of categories, as useful as they may seem for promoting music and reaching potential fans. OUTBURN magazine described SINCE LONG BEFORE as "lush synth and acoustic guitar inflected atmospheric folk", if that is any indication...

Our lyric writing style has always had a decidedly oblique quality. We have yet to write a confessional song or a "song with a message" in which we are imposing particular ideas or personal life experiences on the listener. Our style is more escapist, more aligned with the goals of fairy tales than with diaries or manifestos. The lyrics often employ references to an imaginative mythology, suggesting a deep sense of place in which the listener may dwell. As with fairy tales, there exists a multitude of 'readings' available ranging from the purely narrative to the more metaphorical and symbolic.

StarVox:  What kind of musical background do you both have? Have you always been musically inclined?

Dreams in Exile: Both of us have been playing guitar since we were 12 or so and neither of us have any formal musical training.

StarVox: How did Kirk and Corey come to form Dreams in Exile?

Dreams in Exile: The band was originally formed way back in 1986 in New York when we were both in high school. We played a few parties with an acoustic 12 string, an electric sitar, and a sampler and made a few tapes in Kirk's basement. Even back then the music had a decidedly atmospheric yet structured feeling to it. After Corey went off to college and Kirk to art school, we continued to make music on our own, sharing tapes and ideas and making music together whenever we could. This was not enough, however, and as soon as we were reunited in Portland we once again took up Dreams in Exile in earnest.

StarVox:  What prompted your move from New York to Portland?

Dreams in Exile: Corey came to Portland looking for teaching work after attending graduate school in Washington (he currently teaches Anthropology at a local college). Kirk moved to town a few years thereafter to join him and get to work on Dreams in Exile.

StarVox:  I notice that with some Pacific Northwest bands -- there's an outdoorsy some times liquid feel to the music. Do you think that your music is at all reflective of the environment? Do you find one city or another more conducive to musical inspiration?

Dreams in Exile: Yes, you've really hit on something there. We are forever surrounded by green and mist and beach and tree and stream out here.  These ubiquitous elements have a direct bearing on our song writing.  There's this wonderful view from Corey's apartment - tall dark evergreens swarming with birds and mist - that has particularly informed our songs. There appears to be 3 discernible seasons her in Portland - Summer, Spring and one solid continual Fall. The eight months of soft autumn rain can't help but to seep into our songs. In this way, Portland is a very inspiring place to make music - it offers an inspiring landscape and an atmosphere of introspection.

StarVox:  In a recent conversation I had asked Kirk where the inspiration for the song "Jennie Haniver" had come from... care sharing this story with our readers?

Dreams in Exile: The song "Jennie Haniver" was originally written many years ago and was initially inspired by some beautiful fragmented memories Kirk had of a particular movie he saw as a young child. The movie, 'Bermuda Depths', was about a haunting woman and the sea. The lyrics to Jennie can be enjoyed as aesthetic narrative or may be read on a more metaphorical level - a story about being seduced by the imagination. This is a very precious song for us and reminds us of our goals as artists especially.

StarVox:  Your full length CD, Since Long Before, was recently released on Crowd Control Activities. I understand that you've already got another one in the works -- can you tell us a bit about this new project and how its different or expands your musical vision from Since Long Before?

Dreams in Exile: Our next release will be 4 or 5 song EP entitled Smoke and Fire. We are extremely thrilled about the work on this EP as it is a strong representation of Dreams in Exile's evolving style and strengthening of atmospheric elements. This EP definitely represents a fine-tuning of the song textures we are trying to achieve in the studio

We have also been hard at work conceiving our second full length CD as well as a collection of songs based on the Undine tale by Baron de la Motte Fouqué.

StarVox:  How did Dreams in Exile end up working with vidnaObmana? How does this collaboration work with vidna in Belgium and you guys in Portland, Oregon?

Dreams in Exile: When we first decided to resurrect Dreams in Exile, we created a 4 song demo and sent it to a number of people in the industry. We mailed one to vidnaObmana because we felt a deep affiliation with his vision and very much wanted to share our creations with him. The demo, which contained early versions of "Conifer & Fern", "Peloponissos", "Gold", and "Youngmonk", garnered his interest. We were delighted when he asked for more! We set to work and made a second demo. This one, with embryonic versions of "Armada", "Jennie Hanniver", "Oarthanalea", and "Dynasty" resulted in an invitation from Vidna. He proposed to produce and master a full length album comprised of the pieces we sent him sequenced with a collaborative project based on our song "The River Gods".

Physically, our collaboration consists of our sending to Belgium either 1) tracks to for him to amend, mix and, master into a finished piece or 2) a song completely mixed by ourselves for him to master and embellish with his atmospheric wizardry.

Starvox:  About the textures and sounds vidna had added to your songs --were you surprised or did you have some kind of idea in mind what his collaboration would bring to your music?

Dreams in Exile: The first time we heard what "The River Gods" had become (namely the four pieces 'Oeverture, Coda, River Gods 1 & 2) we were completely blown away. He really digs into the song and expands aspects of the composition that we were not even aware of! We are continually surprised by how he works with our material - it's always such a beautiful, but never a predictable, treatment.

For example - we recently sent him tracks to a song entitled 'My Queen' (destined for the upcoming Release Records/Crowd Control Activities Funeral Songs compilation). Rather than add explicit electronic atmospheres, he adds rainsticks, jingling sea shells and the sound of his own voice chanting! When you send something off to Vidna Obmana for production, you don't expect it to come back with added vocals! But that's how he works - his priority is beauty and this sits nicely with our own motivations.

StarVox:  For those of us not familiar with the venue that vidnaObmana will be playing in Portland -- The Old Church, describe it for us.

Dreams in Exile: Sure. The Old Church is just that - a beautiful old church complete with tall stained glass windows, wooden pews for seating, and a lovely pipe organ on the dais. The acoustics in there are excellent - it should be quite a special show, indeed. The Old Church is on SW 11th and Clay in downtown Portland.

StarVox:  And finally, some off-the-wall fun questions for you both:

 - favorite food? Grilled Portuguese Sardines
 - favorite drink? Orange Juice
 - music you listen to? Tyrannosaurus Rex
 - movie? Hannah and Her Sisters
 - book? Winters Tale by Mark Helprin
 - favorite smell? Scotch Tape
 - favorite season? Season of the Witch
 - inspiration? Instinct

 - favorite food? Grandma's Zeppelins (a Lithuanian specialty)
 - favorite drink? Krupnik
 - music you listen to? Indian film music
 - movie? Billy Jack
 - book? Tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann
 - favorite smell? Karunamayi Ma's hand
 - favorite season? Fall in N.Y.
 - inspiration? The Other

(editor's note: special thanks to Kirk and Corey from Dreams in Exile --see also Part One: vidnaObmana and their CD Review)

Official webste:
(advanced tickets for the vidnaObmana concert with Steve Roach in Portland can be purchased through this website)

Lydia Lunch
~by Adrian

So there I was, back in 1986 at the tender age of 15, browsing through records at my local record shop, when i come across the woman of my dreams. There she was, immaculate, full of hate and anger, but focused, thoughtful and a bit calculated in the way that she sliced through topics of a disturbing and emotional nature. She is demoness and goddess and God help the male that crosses this succubus of the spoken word world. This icon was Lydia Lunch, and ever since then I have been a devoted/hypnotized follower of this woman's work, both audio and video.

Back in the mid to late 70's a group of artists had a vision, a vision to rebel against the rebels of society, the "punk rockers" that so openly left behind the very thing they were against, the underground. With success of bands like the Sex Pistols, the Clash and several others, the future of this culture was rocky at best, seeing how money and fame destroyed what many kids treasured in these groups. This rebellion was called "No Wave", a dive into the destruction and disassembling of the corporate music world. Nick Zed and a few others took this step a bit further and encompassed the art world of film and fine art into this chaos driven movement. Lydia Lunch, who was hanging around this scene at the time, joined forces in 1976 at the age of 17 with James Chance and a few others to form Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, a raw, unexposed, violent slap in the music industry face that was more of a means of reacting against the stagnant music and culture, or more exact, to "Save Us From Punk Rock". This career was short yet powerful, TJ&J put out several records and did countless shows, the average show lasting a whole 10 minutes. Before this monster turned to acceptance, it imploded, as did the No Wave era.

After a few other projects like Beirut Slump, in which Lydia was on guitar AND Bobby "Berkowitz" Swope on lead vocals, Lydia threw together an acclaimed solo LP called "Queen of Siam" and later teamed up with several like-minded people and formed the swamp-rock, power fuck of Eight Eyed Spy, a sexual frenzy of dynamic sounds and ragged, twisted vocals and emotions pouring out of Ms. Lunch.  Along with this success, Lydia began pumping out spoken word compilations, a testimony of her life, fears, fantasy and hates. Soon after 13•13 was born, which in my opinion, is her best work. Haunting and dark, Lydia comes and scratches at the door to your heart and brain with this album. Soft yet intense, she works the piano into a submission that provokes one into dreaming about sunless days of murder, victims, train wrecks and bon fires. True vertigo. Her side projects began a series of collaborations to include the stunning, Charley Manson-esqu"Deathvally 69" with Sonic Youth, the cabaret with No Trend and Sort Sol, to the explosion and mayhem of her works with Birthday Party "Honeymoon in Red" (which is also outstanding, very dark and sinister), Roland S. Howard, and Clint Ruin in the industrial, sexual sounds of "Stinkfist". As her spoken word received notoriety, she was often seen in collections of poets and authors like Hubert Selby Jr., Henry Rollins, Emilio Cubeiro, and Wanda Coleman. Her most well known collaboration is with X's Exene Cervenka in the book, Adulterer's Anonymos and Rude Hieroglyphics.

I feel her best and most disturbing work comes from the blood-soaked inde filmmaker Richard Kern, who invokes a sense of true, in-your-face artistry that mocks the world and its society, much like the No-Wavers of the seventies. Lydia hooked up with Mr. Kern in the early 80s in New York and soon became entwined in the stage shows that were performed by Kern and fellow "blood and guts" performers. Acts of bondage, mutilation and bloodshed caused quiet a stir among many spectators. Soon after, Kern began work with Lydia on the short film The Right Side of My Brain, an erotic exploration into victimization and workings of. It was a true account to actual experiences that Lydia once knew concerning the violation of females. "Willing victims" is what she refers to, and in her other short bits like Submit To Me and Fingered, she takes the imagery and runs with it, very, very far. Kern has his movies in a collection called Hardcore vol. I & II, and I highly recommend seeing these gems as well as his books, New York Girls and XXX Girls.
Many people have tried to understand or dissect Lydia. No one has succeeded. Lydia is a true poet for/of the people and she will not be second-guessed. Her power to enrapture, humiliate and abuse the audience or listeners has made her a "stealer of souls" that takes you on a ride into you own darkest hell and shoves your face into the mess you call reality. She is the Alpha Omega to all that is angst, and she knows the buttons to push to destroy society, and she is coming to a town near you.

Lydia Lunch -- Notable quotes

Official Web site:   http://www.angelheart-trading.com/lydia/LydiaHome.htm

Chicago, IL
~reviewed by Matthew

In the heydays of mope rock, one could turn to 4 AD records.  In the early 90’s, one could without fail rely on Cleopatra records to supply the best of what is now considered the second wave of Gothic rock.  Over the past few years, if it is swirling neo-classical romantic ambience that you seek, than you could turn to Projekt Records to satisfy your needs.  Now, as we usher for the new millenium, the dark alternative music enthusiast has now collected all there relevant 4AD and Projekt recordings and is now in search of a new source for music: they have to look no further than Seraph Records, a relatively new dark music label based in Chicago, Illinois.

Seraph Records was formed in the early nineties by the founding member of Garden Of Dreams, Gene Blalock.  After their self-produced first release “Music Without Hands” hit a brick wall in marketing the music to mainstream
labels.  So he took matters in his own hands, and in 1993, Seraph’s first release by Garden Of Dreams “The Seraphim’s Desire” met with critical acclaim.

Seraph began to gain attention within the underground, first acting as a distribution company for passionate artists such as the darkly seductive act Falling Janus out of New Orleans.  Shortly thereafter, the label opened to sign under-recognized and appreciated artists with similar visions and true dedication, first with the act Rachael’s Surrender and followed by With
Sirens Entranced, Angelhood, Ashes, Ennui, and several others.  Also, as started with Garden Of Dreams, there is also video/mulit-media production services provided in order to expand the ideas and apsirations of the artists with avant garde and memorable visuals.

Taking pride in the music and art which they house, Seraph has a broad scope of styles under their wing of musical presentation, however, it would be fairly accurate to say that the majority of Seraph artists’ would be embraced by Gothic and experimental/post-rock enthusiasts.  More specifically, the label seems to be single handedly the strongest force in
reviving the Shoegazer genre of dark alternative college music.  Where as this genre was spearheaded by the likes of the Cocteau Twins and later Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, etc., Seraph’s leading artists are without a doubt the next generation of shoegazing dark rock perfection---and then some.


Certainly some of the most impressive and refreshing artists of the dark music scene can be found here.  In this issue of STARVOX I have reviewed a great number of Seraph’s CD catalogue, which of course, can be found in the
CD REVIEWS section.  Below is the complete roster of artists presented by the label.

ANGELHOOD --- The solo project of Mykel Boyd, noted for exceptionally intense performance art and live improvisation.  Both experimental offerings and more sturctured ethereal gothic compositions can be found in Angelhood’s repetoire.  The conceptual 7” “Whitechapel” marked the first Seraph release and the follow up full-length “Fragments of a Novel” is due this fall.

ASHES  ---  Inspired by the soundscapes of early Pink Floyd, the Cure, This Mortal Coil, and the psychedelia of the Beatles, Ashes are responsible for beautifully transcendant, shimmering guitar drenched post-rock, timelessly portrayed on their epic full-length release “Swirl.”

BREATHER  --- A new addition to the roster,  fronted by feathery female vocals atop resonant melodic dreamscapes of distorted guitars and lulling Cranes-inspired post-rock.  Their first release is due later this year.

COLORTONE --- Chicago based project, fusing sweet eighties synth pop and ethereal lullabies, with soft spoken male vocals relaying nursery rhyme-like odes to youth, childhood, innocence, love, and universal personal themes.  The release “Constructive Stumblings” is now available.

DALET-YOD --- A hybrid of ambient noise and pyschedelia with strong female vocals interwoven amidst the aural chaos.  Upcoming release entitled “From The Hands Of Lilith” due this winter.

ENNUI --- One of the most notable and popular artists on the label, due to the potential club smash “Misery” which can be found on this band’s “Ritual & Dogma” release.  An eclectic collection of the band’s todays and yesterdays, exploring darkwave, depressive folk, ambient/electronica, and traditional goth rock.

GARDEN OF DREAMS --- The first and most popular Seraph band.  Passionate music that has mastered both melodic pop hooks and deeply melancholic romantic ballads.  Great male vocals, outstanding musicianship, and an overall triumph for emotionally charged alternative music.

PARIS BY NIGHT --- Female songwriter and performer from the New York, delivering cutting-edge rock,  tradtional acoustic folk, and lush ethereal music, all with a popular musical appeal to cross-pollinate throughout several genres of music, both within and beyond underground.

RACHAEL’S SURRENDER --- Poignant and mysterious, this dark solo project emereged with “Within Trees Of Winter” on Seraph records and covers a broad scope of Gothic and ethereal music, though leaving the listener with an utterly lonesome and heartbroken feeling.  A very powerful act that has a lot to offer.

JAMII SZMADZINSKI --- Having toured and contributed to the popular Gothic/Folk act Human Drama this virtuoso violinist and new age/ethereal composer showcases a wide variety of classical rooted compositions with twists of alt rock and dashes of gothic atmosphere.

WHIMSICAL --- Another recent and highly promising addition to Seraph’s roster, is this Chicago based Gothic/Shoegazer act.  Fronted by the enigmactic and entrancing vocals Krissy Bailey, the band fits in snuggly with the label with their palette of glimmering uplifting music inspired by the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Lush, and Slowdive.  Their first Seraph release is  due later this fall as well, and is entitled "Setting Suns are Semi-Circles"

WITH SIRENS ENTRANCED ---  A sinister blend of darkwave, electronic ambience, and ethreal.  Sublimely eerie and engrossing atmospheres, and quite difficult to resist.

ERICH ALLEN ZANN --- Intense experimental, ambient, neo-clasical soundtrack music inspired as you guessed by the literary works of Lovecraft, Poe, and Kafka as well as artists such as surrealist Hieronymous Bosch.  Similar to the soundscapes of Merzebow and Tindersticks.  New release due out entitled “Solar Lodge” later this year.

Mykel Boyd Promotions Director
Post office box 13110
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Trick or ... Dead rock n' roll?
StarVox Celebrates Gothabilly
~by Blu
(photos courtesy of Skully Records)

We couldn't  let Halloween pass us by without raising the lids of a few coffins and howling at the moon along with some of our favorite Gothabilly/Psychobilly bands. These rockabilly-related genres have grown tremendously in the past year due in part I'm sure to the popularity growth of Rockabilly -- the "living" version of this brand of music. For those of us with a bit more cynical view on life, we're lucky to have an abundance of un-dead musicians making ghoulish sounds to delight our blackened souls.  Not only has Rockabilly caught on in the mass market, but its now fashionable to dress "rockabilly." I know I know -- who cares -- but it *does* make finding button down shirts with flames on them MUCH easier than it was a few years ago. Add some moss and some graveyard dust and whalla -- you're one of the undead.

As for the bands themselves - Cult of the Psychic Fetus and StarVox fav's The Brickbats were a few of the pioneering bands in this type of music (with the exception of historical bands like The Cramps and 45 Grave who's monster-punk music is a classic). With influences that range from Elvis, to Johnny Cash and Lemmy from Motorhead; their morbid sense of humor (Paul Morden of the Brickbats had studied to be a mortician) and punkish party antics are hard to resist. They are what Rob Zombie dreams of being. This year has seen the rise of many new bands that offer their own unique spins on the genre. From the Western sounds of Ghoultown from Dallas, the Elvis-summoning party of The Gettin' Headstones from Atlanta, to the story-telling hyjinx of  The Hammerdowns from Seattle - there is a ghastly buffet of bands to listen to  -- and you don't have to search very  hard to find them. Others -- like the Psycho Chargers (formally the Psychonauts) and The Krewmen from the UK have refined their music and are finally getting the press they deserve.

The record label Skully Records has been instrumental in promoting these types of bands. This Halloween (er -- ok..almost Halloween -- Oct 28th), Skully Records will host one of the biggest Gothabilly shows ever at the infamous CBGB's.  Their incredible national line up includes: The Cryptkeeper Five (Trenton, NJ), Eight Ball Grifter (Lansing, MI), Psycho Charger (NYC), Ghoultown (Dallas, TX), The Hammerdowns (Seattle, WA), The Gettin' Headstones (Atlanta, GA), The Deep Eynde (Los Angeles, CA), and Cult of the Psychic Fetus (Cleveland, OH). For those unfortunate souls not able to attend this fright-fest of a show, Kevin from Skully Records informed us that "the show will be Cybercast so people all over the world can watch it live. There will be a link set up from our home page www.skullyrecords.com so people can got there and click the link and it will take them to the show."  See the Skully Records website for complete details.

StarVox recently caught up with the mastermind behind Skully records and picked his brain. Here's what he had to say:

StarVox: Describe what Skully Records is -- what's your goal as a label and what kind of music do you support?

Kevin: Well that's a mouthful. What would Skully Records like to be when it grows up? Skully Records is an independent record label based in New York City. Our goal as a company is to bring the best underexposed bands in the world to the attention of our listeners. We work with Ska, Swing, Surf, Rockabilly and Psychobilly bands and now "Gothabilly".

StarVox: For those "new" to this type of music -- how would you describe it?

Kevin: This style of music [Gothabilly] takes its name and influence from a combination of Gothic and Rockabilly musics. In a broad sense it combines the rhythms and twangy guitar of roots rock n' roll with the more modern melodic sounds of the Gothic music. If the ghost of Elvis rose up and played songs about life and love as a corpse this would be what they would sound like. But Gothabilly as we define it brings in such a wide array of influences that it is hard to pigeonhole, it can have Industrial influences or Jazz, or Ambient.

StarVox: When did you start Skully Records and why?

Kevin: I started Skully Records in 1996 because I knew a lot of bands that weren't getting the exposure that they deserved. Since then We have worked with many great bands from all over the world in a very wide range of genres, and having a great time doing it.

StarVox: What are some current projects?

Kevin: We are working on the Psycho Charger debut CD which should be ready for release in December; We will be releasing the new Eight Ball Grifter CD which we hope to have out in early February and The Hammerdowns debut CD is in the works for sometime next year.

StarVox: From your standpoint, how has psychobilly/gothabilly changed in the past year?

Kevin: Well, about a year and a half ago there really wasn't any sort of organized Gothabilly scene and almost no bands calling themselves Gothabilly. Since we released the first compilation last year we have seen lots of bands choosing to call themselves Gothabilly, and more fans finding their way to this unique scene. The Psychobilly purists still have a little trouble with other "billy" derivations but they are coming around also.

StarVox: What bands are stand outs in this genre of music in your opinion?

Kevin: There are many good bands that crossover into Gothabilly but I would hesitate to classify them all specifically as Gothabilly bands. There are several bands that are really standouts as Gothabilly bands though; Cult of the Psychic Fetus of course is probably the definitive Gothabilly band, Ghoultown and Mr. Badwrench are both terrific and I think The Hammerdowns will surprise everyone with their morbid sense of humor and musicianship.

StarVox: How can people purchase records released by Skully?

Kevin: As we release many different kinds of music, each CD we put out has slightly different distribution. We are primarily a web based company and we link to our distributors from each CDs page. Our new releases can also be purchased from all the major online music sources.

Visit Planet Brickbats!
The Brickbats
Skully Records
The Psycho Chargers
deathrock.com, the complete horror goth punk site
Horror Punk WebRing
Psychobilly WebRing
Cult of the Psychic Fetus
The Kewmen
DJ Creepy Cool's Deathrockabilly events guide for Atlanta
The Raven Network
The Spectremen
Agent X and the Kill Villians
Barnyard Ballers
The Brain Bats
The Deep Eynde
Eight Ball Grifter
Electric Bird Noise
Thee Hallowteens
Mr Badwrench
Phantom Cowboys
The Witching Hour