DARK NOUVEAU – compilation review


Dark Nouveau features 24 mesmerizing tracks curated by Athan Maroulis of Metropolis Records. As the founder/frontman of moody darkwave project NOIR and of notorious industrial rock outfit Spahn Ranch, he lends not only his musical talents to a track on the album (NOIR’s “A Pleasure To Burn,” which has echoes of Beat Noir-era Spahn Ranch and showcases his unique voice and arrangement style beautifully), but also his 20-odd years of expertise from his days at Cleopatra Records assembling all your favorite goth/industrial compilations. For fans craving the eclectic tastes found in the flavors of The Unquiet Grave or the Dark Noise series, Dark Nouveau picks right up where these left off. If you’re looking for new artists in the dark alternative scene who are doing something unique and exciting, this is a must-have; there’s something here for everybody.

The sounds of Dark Nouveau range from the moody synth-drenched and swirly by Antipole and She Past Away, to the dark and dreamy soundscape of “Silence The Voices” by French solo artist Hante, whose reverb-laden vocals and synths bring an ethereal quality reminiscent of old 4AD with a little bit of an indie pop sheen. There’s also plenty of straight-up, good old-fashioned gothic rock, like Night Nail’s “Nowhere,” which definitely stands out as a favorite and She Past Away with “Asimilasyon.” Skeleton Hands’ “Unwanted” is just fast enough to dance to, blending melancholy guitars and a synth pop beat. Shadow Age’s “In Snow” sounds like it came straight from the Batcave vault with guitars that bring to mind The Cure or Fields of the Nephilim.

If you’re here for the club hits, have no fear; the hypnotic collaboration between electronic craftsman Slighter and Decedent, “Hyper-Aware (Corruption Mix),” will have you moving your feet for sure. Twin Tribes kicks the tempo up a notch yet again with the catchy post-punk track “Shadows” and Vancouver lo-fi trio Weird Candle gets glitchy with “Alchemist.” Dead Leaf Echo’s “You.My.Treasure” brings us downtempo drums and bass with cinematic female vocals in the vein of Collide or Switchblade Symphony.

The best thing about this compilation is how broadly it sweeps across the best undiscovered voices of a genre and subculture which is indeed experiencing a little bit of a renaissance right now, showcasing one new favorite after another and allowing a whole new generation of baby bats and dark rockers to discover it. Whether you’re sitting in your room painting your nails black and smoking a clove, or hanging out at the club in your fishnet shirt, or walking through the woods at night, Dark Nouveau can easily serve as the soundtrack. Once again, Athan Maroulis knows how to pick ‘em.