Tribute to SomaFM’s Darkwave channel ‘doomed’

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Somafm.com has streamed an inventive radio channel pioneered by Rusty Hodge and DJ Lucretia featuring, as they called it “Dark industrial/ambient music for tortured souls.” The service was recently discontinued until October Halloween season, which to the Gothic-Ambient-Industrial music crowd signifies the end of an era. Following is a sample of sounds from the dark side.

darkwave music, gothic, Michael Losure

Image courtesy of Michael Losure.

Industrial, Gothic, Darkwave: Sounds for the Doomed Crowd

Dark wave or darkwave music crawled from the 1970s shadows of punk’s violence and rock-n-roll’s commercialism, coinciding with the popularity of New Wave and Post-Punk. Technologically transfigured instrumentation mixed with an undercurrent of death-rock, created a new sound that appealed to the assumedly-depressed set demanding long, ambient or apocalyptic instrumentation and sorrow-infused lyrical introspection. Bela Lugosi supposedly would have approved, but he was already dead.


Black Tape for a Blue GirlApotheosis – “As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire” – 1999


PhragmentsEarth Shall Not Cover Their Blood – 2008


Bauhaus – She’s In Parties – “Burning from the Inside” – 1983

This fervent 1980s subculture of black-wearing and looking (almost) dead developed in Europe alongside dark wave music, whose members were called “wavers” or “dark wavers,” or in the US they were also called “doomers.” In Germany, the rich history of Krautrock evolved into something darker, more mesmerizing, which was just called Goth or Gothic.

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Psy 231 – Fear to Faith – A collaboration between Psyclones (Brian Ladd & Julie Frith) and Pacific 231 (Pierre Jolivet) – 1990

During the ’90s, the goth rock genre began to cross-pollinate with synth pop and dream pop, producing the hybrid style of darkwave. Much more somber and ethereal than goth rock’s other offshoot, industrial dance, darkwave was originally defined by bands like Clan of Xymox and Psyche. A second wave of artists would inject other influences, with Dead Can Dance and In the Nursery favoring classical song structures or medieval instrumentation, while Die Form and Lycia brought along sounds that were more avant-garde and ambient.


Joy DivisionEternalformed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Originally named Warsaw, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bass player Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris.

darkwave, stephens lust

Image courtesy of Stephen’s Lust.

The late ’90s would see a rise in darkwave’s popularity thanks to the success of Switchblade Symphony plus Sam Rosenthal‘s group Black Tape for a Blue Girl. While labels like Metropolis and Cleopatra could be classified as mostly industrial imprints that flirted with the style, darkwave became the primary focus of Rosenthal’s @Projekt label. @Projekt acts like Love Spirals Downwards, Unto Ashes, and Voltaire helped usher the darkwave style into the 21st century.


Communion SssEternal Betrayal – She Silenced Seraphim – 2011

… through fragmentary dreams colliding with each other in fluid motion and perpetual entanglement, untouched by limitations of reason and translucid reality, and in pure images and remembrance of archaic past and arcane origins brought forth by sleep and spontaneously ephemeral aberration, I view her alien world — she that silenced seraphim…
dance your dirge


WumpscutShe’s Dead – “Music for a Slaughtering Tribe” – 2008


Archon Satani – Heavenly Inoculation – “Beyond All Three Sickness” – 1992

Founded in 1997, Unto Ashes are among the foremost purveyors of “blood-lit” music, by which they seek to explore the beautiful and terrible currents that weave themselves through our lives. Their highly original music is informed by Medieval dirges, Apocalyptic Folk, Black Metal, Spinning and Harvest chants, and German Romantic sensibilities. Epic and exalted; claustrophobic and suffocating; vital and menacing; glorious and impenetrable: Unto Ashes is all – and none – of these.


Unto AshesAh, Sunflower!


strom.ec – Helvetin Esikartano – “Divine Legions Beyond Psyche” – 2008

Check out our recent Spotify re-creation of some of doomed’s finest artists. Stay below, keep the faith…

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt