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Projekt Presents: A Dark Cabaret
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Projekt: Gothic is a perfect starter kit; this disc is a perfect collection with which to encourage musical exploration; offering up 13 tracks of impressive choices by the most influential bands and their most defining moments. Every song is as enchanting and as charismatic as each contributing band is unique. From the gothic comedy of Voltaire to the bleak despondency of Lycia; from the poetic melancholy of Black Tape for a Blue Girl to the ethereal beauty of Mira, there's something for everyone here. The continuum of music is well explored here. With this disc, Projekt have provided the listener with a perfect sampling. - Musictap.net
"If one were to attempt to take the entire essence of Projekt's artists and try to condense it into one simple disc, you would have Projekt: Gothic a brilliantly constructed CD showcasing the prime artists on this darkwave and ethereal label. - Sublevel203.com
A note from Projekt's Sam Rosenthal: For the 2002 holiday season, the Hot Topic chain asked me to put together a special budget-priced compilation focusing on the ethereal/darkwave side of the Projekt label. It was fun to listen through Projekt CDs that I have not heard in a while, searching for the perfect songs to capture the label's Gothic side. Included on Projekt: Gothic is Unto Ashes's cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper," recorded especially for this compilation, as well as classic tracks from Voltaire, Attrition and Lycia. Also included is a stunning track from Human Drama which is taken from their mail-order only CD Cause and Effect. Through March 11, 2003, Projekt: Gothic will sell exclusively at Hot Topic, with over 425 locations nationwide. It's available on the counter at all of their stores across the nation. After March 11th, Hot Topic will be joined by Borders and all other cool stores large and small with this title.
When I first started exploring underground music, I never much looked into gothic music as 'goth' to me meant 80s mainstream goth bands that held little or no appeal to me, and I was expecting more of the same. However, I soon learnt that although some of the underground goth bands are heavily influenced by famous 80s goth, there are also subgenres within the gothic scene that have very little in common with the sort of music generally thought to be goth. The part of the gothic scene that I feel mostly drawn to is the dark folk with medieval and classical tinges, and the ethereal pop that sounds identical to the sort of music which in the 90s was associated more with indiepop kids than goths. I still find it hard to categorise these kinds of music as goth. The dark atmosphere is there, but stylistically there is no similarity whatsoever between these bands and the sort of music originally called goth in the 80s. Projekt specialises in both of these subgenres and beyond, and there's some really superb songs on this compilation, which incidentally comes packaged in beautiful faerie artwork. I would recommend checking this out even if you thought you didn't like gothic music as a lot of it completely blows away the stereotypes of what goth is popularly thought to be.
Audra probably come the closest to the sort of music that is immediately recognizable as goth, their track has deep male vocals, a driving bass line and a doomy synth. Voltaire's track is called When You're Evil, but instead of doing the irony-free 'evil' thing you might expect from a more stereotypical goth band, this has tongue-in-cheek lyrics and has the overall feel of a vaudeville song. There is also a strong classical influence in the style of violin playing. This Ascension's Mysterium is pure beauty - a superb medieval style song with female vocals set to rock instrumentation. The words are in Latin and the ones I understand suggest it might be a hymn. Black Tape For A Blue Girl do rather good dark folk with lead female vocals and male backing vocals, woodwind, percussion and (I think) mandolin. Attrition's track surprised me, I thought they were one of those heavy synth based bands for some reason, but this is more of a folkish thing which also puts me in mind of operetta, but darker. The lead vocalist is male, with a very 'gothic' deep voice, but there are also operatic backing vocals from a female singer. I heard Mors Syphilitica on a now-deleted Middle Pillar compilation, and was really impressed with their track; their song here is just as impressive - excellent dark folk with mandolin and hints of a Middle Eastern influence. (Incidentally, their website has a link to a Steeleye Span fan site - now that's good taste!) The Lycia track features a repeated sinister atmospheric sound effect, heavy guitar, electronic drums and a typically goth-style male vocal. A bit too much on the doom-laden side for me, this one, but it's the only track here I'm not keen on. Mira do dreampop, and very well do they do it too. Thanatos' track features a throaty male vocal and doomy synth, but is not stereotypical goth as it is acoustic guitar driven and also includes some spacey bleeps. Human Drama's track is a sophisticated piano-led ballad with a strong classical influence. In the 90s there was Love Spirals Downwards, who had an excellent dreampop single called Sideways Forest. Ryan Lum is now in the similarly named Lovespirals, whose track here is also dreampop but predominantly acoustic rather than with the atmospheric noise of Sideways Forest. Unto Ashes provide a stripped-down and slowed-down version of Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper, which is dramatically different from the original. They have changed the melody slightly in parts, for example in the chorus they spread the word 'fly' over three syllables in very much the same style as The Sea Urchins/Delta's James Roberts (I don't mean The Sea Urchins or Delta covered this song - just that James Roberts has a tendency to use that technique in his songwriting).
Lots of totally amazing songs here - and it's available at a budget price.
Projekt: Gothic is a record released by the American darkwave/ethereal record label Projekt and this is really a good mixture of songs. With a strong gothic feeling and a quite electronic sound the band AUDRA begins the one-hour trip in the world of Projekt. With synths and a deep male voice the band manages to do a very good song that makes you immediately want to continue listening to the album. The next song is one of the most interesting songs I've heard in a while. VOLTAIRE is a one-man band and he shows the humorous side of goth. With his violin, tambourine and of course drums and guitar he tells (sings) a story about being the root to all evil and you can't avoid smiling when you hear the song. Great lyrics and a nice melody make this song one of the highlights on the record. BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL has also managed to do a very beautiful and good song. The melancholy is very strong and it's a very peaceful and harmonic song. It's mostly a woman that sings with a high and beautiful voice but in the chorus there's also a man that sings. The eight song "Cayman" that is performed by the band MIRA is also one of my favourite songs on this record. It's a very good and atmospheric song and the female vocals is very beautiful The record ends with an excellent coven on BLUE OYSTER CULT's song "Don't Fear The Reaper" performed by the band UNTO ASHES. Their version is very atmospheric and the only instrument used is an acoustic guitar. Both a women and a man sings on the song and their voices fits perfectly together. However, the man sings with a light and soft voice, not the standard gothic deep voice.
The key word for this record is atmospheric because it describes exactly what this record is. This is one of the better compilation records I've heard. There is enough variation between the songs so the record is interesting but not also not too much so it doesn't become chaotic. If you like darkwave, ethereal or just atmospheric music this record is a very good choice.
From time to time, Projekt Records releases icy floe sampler discs. There has never been a bad collection to date. That alone should tell you just how well thought out the selections are. What they do is to provide the lucky listener with a strong cross-section of what Projekt, as a label, has to offer. And Projekt has much to offer. As a home to the myriad of bands that produce some of the most hypnotic and captivating music, Projekt stands as a solitary beacon of light in a world of pure musical essence. Projekt, run by a most insightful visionary named Sam Rosenthal, who understands musical styles like a green thumb tends a garden, with his garden being one of music with depth and meaning, have some of the world’s most impressive artists on its roster. Some have moved on to other things but if Sam releases a sampler, often it contains current and future music. Projekt has assembled two sampler discs that do several things.
The first, Projekt: Gothic which calls itself an ethereal / darkwave compilation and is designed for Hot Topic as an introduction to the label and to the genre of music that Projekt defines so well, is a perfect starter kit. The clientele of Hot Topic are young music and fashion enthusiasts who are searching for something new. Projekt: Gothic is a perfect collection with which to encourage musical exploration. B>Projekt: Gothic offers up 13 tracks of impressive choices by the most influential bands and their most defining moments. Every song is as enchanting and as charismatic as each contributing band is unique. From the gothic comedy of Voltaire to the bleak despondency of Lycia; from the poetic melancholy of Black Tape for a Blue Girl to the ethereal beauty of Mira, there’s something for everyone here. The continuum of music is well explored here. With this disc, Projekt have provided the listener with a perfect sampling. All that remains are for the audience to respond and expand….and enjoy.
The second Projekt sampler disc, The Arbitrary Width of Shadows, is created for Borders and represents the second volume in what is most likely an annual event. Borders have been good in showcasing Projekt releases. Borders is where I first came into contact with Projekt material myself so I can respect the fact that Projekt desires to give back to Borders. This sampler disc is not so much a compiled history of Projekt than it is a sampling of the current material being released. With Borders’ wide variety of music, the store becomes a perfect venue for exposure to the artists that make up Projekt. The collection of songs on this disc is satisfyingly diverse, opening a world of beauty and introspection to any one curious enough to venture forth. This disc, also known as beneath the icy floe v.9, is a great bargain with a great price that makes it accessible to virtually anyone. With artists like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and their wonderfully meditative songs of which you get two from their current “scavenger bride”; Mira, a gorgeous and airy band with dreamy vocals; the inimitable Lovespirals with their spacious “Dejame”; and the distinctive atmospheres of Steve Roach, Peter Ulrich (Dead Can Dance), Alio Die & Amelia Cuni, this release becomes an imperative purchase with exploration of talent so impressive, you’ll be forever amazed at the gathering of so much perfection on one disc.
So….two great sampler discs at great prices available at great stores. How much more motivation do you need?
DISC: Two well assembled discs of Projekt songs from various artists that sound great. Individually recorded but all providing as great a stereo mix as can be heard.
PACKAGING: These fantastic collections are as well packaged as can be. Each collection offers intriguing cover art and a four page booklet that present art, track listing and credits. Believe me, as bargain priced as these discs are, they go way beyond their worth in the selection of music. Projekt has generously valued priced what could be full priced various artists collections. Projekt is to be commended on providing the consumer with high value music at an incredibly low cost.
THE FINAL SAY: Sam Rosenthal cares about his roster of artists and the consumer. His approach of providing a stimulating set of sampler discs at low cost and in tie-in promotions at Hot Topic and Borders shows why Projekt stands alone, even among its peers, as the label that excels. There is now no excuse to snap these discs up while you can. - Matt Rowe
Hot Topic approached Projekt Records requesting a budget-priced compilation that focused on the ethereal/darkwave side of the label. Here, some of the label classics are featured as well as Unto Ashes’ cover of the Blue Oyster Cult classic, “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” which was specifically recorded for this compilation. Audra kicks off the disc with the club favorite “What Your Eyes Had Seen” which has the goth club dance beats suffused in the layers of dark moodiness that is still as fresh an original as when it was first released Voltaire’s classic “When You’re Evil” continues to entertain years later with the sardonic twisted wit that he has become renown for. This Ascension’s “Mysterium” from their 1999 release takes ancient Latin lyrics and blends reverence into an updated dark rock stylization, showcasing the scope and breadth of vocalist Dru Allen. Black Tape For A Blue Girl is also Projekt label owner Sam Rosenthal’s band. Here, we are treated to a mere taste from The Scavenger Bride whose album credits include Lisa Feuer (flute), Vicki Richards (violin), and Julia Kent (ex-Rasputina on cello), Elysabeth Grant (vocals and viola contributions) as well as the talents of Michael Laird (Unto Ashes), Bret Helm (Audra), Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch), Christopher David (Judith), and Martin Bowes (Attrition). ( A cornucopia who’s who from the underground world!)
Attrition is mostly known these days for the delightful electronic hybrids which keep club kids dancing, however, "A Girl Called Harmony" from 1991 is the one that spun the goth world on its ear and the love affair continues to rage on throughout their many releases. Even with the electronic transition, Attrition still finds ways to keep the music updated but decidedly dark. Mors Syphilitica defies genres by suffusing so many hybrid elements into their work while still keeping it decidedly dark. Amazingly, this track takes a touch of dark bluegrass, operatic vocals and harmonies and sieves it through a Middle Eastern panorama of sentiment. Lycia has inspired more gothic bands than even the Sisters of Mercy. In spite of the fact that the band never made music for the dance floor, their wealth of dark organic sounds continue to resonate with old and new fans alike. In spite of semi-retirement, we do periodically learn of yet another Projekt release from the band which delights the dark underground the world over. Here is one of their more macabre tracks that is heavy on atmosphere and a showcase for what continues to endear the band to new fans yearly. Mira was included with the track “Cayman” from their self-titled 2000 release. The track has a more decided shoe-gazer tone which showcases the brilliantly sweet female vocals of Regina Sosinski whose delivery is capable of breaking even the hardest of hearts. Whenever folks errantly think goth is about being “violent” it helps to play this track to dispel that myth immediately.
Thanatos’ track “Splinters” from their 1997 release Blisters brings about a more goth folk feel with an electronic twist, cultivating a unique hybrid between dark genres that few have been able to top. Johnny Indovina and his band Human Drama have been a legendary underground staple for years and it about time some of the Hot Topic youngin’s learn of the goth history. This track was initially only available from the band’s website and was only recently released through Projekt on the Cause and Effect CD. This track is a piano and vocal recitation full of emotion and drama. Rajna and the self-titled track that is included is like a nighttime camel ride in the Middle Eastern desert. It is dark, pervasive, mysterious and thoroughly exotic and sensual. Love Spirals features Ryan Lum and Anji Bee, two members from the former band Love Spirals Downwards. The track “Swollen Sea,” from their new CD Windblown Kiss, isn’t so much goth as it is quietly soothing with inflections and intonations from variegated styles that some call Dream Pop, a style that has a suitable crossover appeal to ethereal and goth fans alike. Unto Ashes are showcased with a previously unreleased track that was recorded for this compilation. This song will also be available on their forthcoming 2003 release. For those who remember Blue Oyster Cult’s rendition, you will be markedly surprised at the way this band reworked it for a more decided medieval feel.
Hot Topic has been featuring a number of budget priced sample releases from a variety of labels as of late. This installment from Projekt at $4.99 is practically a steal because of the wealth and timeless beauty of the classics that were added. For those new to Projekt and their artists, it is a great showcase for some of their stellar artists while also providing a musical education that goth did not start and end with the Sisters of Mercy. The majority of these tracks won’t be heard on many goth club playlists due to this current incessant need to have music that is full of disco sampled loops and push button bleeps and tweaks. Those who surf the internet may find them on a number of goth stations from Live365 all the way through MP3.com, but one does need to search deeply at times. Since this recording is exclusively available at Hot Topic, do seek it out upon your next trip to the mall as it is money well spent on talent that transcends the dark boundaries. - Mike Ventarola
If one were to attempt to take the entire essence of Projekt’s artists and try to condense it into one simple disc, you would have Projekt: Gothic, a brilliantly constructed CD showcasing the prime artists on this darkwave and ethereal label. Admittedly, I tend to avoid compilation CDs unless there is some sort of collector’s value in it for me, because more often than not, you find a disc littered with trash tracks and maybe two good songs in the mix. But, Projekt has done quite well with this release. The staff took their time to pick the best tracks from the best artists on the label, creating a good sampling of the classic Projekt sound.
The disc begins strongly with “What Your Eyes Had Seen” by Audra, an upbeat track with strong gothic leanings. The spacey guitar with driving bass guitar really gives the piece a nice flow while the low male vocals and dark lyrics draw excellent mental images. This is my favorite song on the disc by far. Projekt also shows their appreciation for the lighter side of the dark with Voltaire’s “When You’re Evil”, a humorous track about being the root of all evil. Aside from the black humor, the music is accented by violins, tambourine and acoustic guitar. This is a fun track indeed. The disc then moves away from the gothic sound and into the realm of ethereal female vocals with This Ascension’s “Mysterium” and “All My Lovers” by Black Tape for a Blue Girl. These are a nice introduction to the ethereal genre because the vocals do not contain the heavy echoes associated with ethereal while avoiding too airy a feel and retaining some dark qualities. The musical backings on these tracks are quite lush and nicely layered. Attrition’s track, “A Girl Called Harmony”, combines the goth and ethereal genres, presenting deeper male vocals and operatic female voice. It makes for a unique combination. I enjoyed the male vocals on this track quite a bit; I liked their rough edge. Another great track on this compilation is “My Virgin Widows” by Mors Syphilitica. It is probably my favorite track utilizing female vocals. However, I’m not exactly sure how to describe this woman’s voice. It’s not really ethereal, and not really goth, and it definitely isn’t operatic. All I can say is its big. I am admittedly picky about female voice. Anything too shrill gives me a headache, and bad operatics make it even worse. The voice here isn’t too high, and shows you don’t have to shatter glass to create a good track. Regarding the music itself, it has a good dose of energy to it, without breaking into rock, and brings in some unusual dark folk and bluegrass elements like banjo giving it a stand out sound. This is definitely a unique track. Male vocals return with Lycia’s “Excade Decade Decada”, a very dark piece. There’s lots of echo on the music itself and quite a bit on the vocalist as well. This is by far the bleakest sounding song on the CD. Low and subdued male vocals echo behind nightmarish sounding synth and looming guitar.
Next, we are brought to lighter and airy sounds with “Cayman” by Mira. This piece conveys intense longing, and is filled with lilting female voice, atmosphere and special guitars. “Cayman” is a very dreamy feeling track. Rather than overload the listener with too much of the airy echoes of the ethereal, the disc turns to a gothic track with the intensely dark male vocals of Thanatos. “Splinters (re-stripped)” is supported by acoustic guitar and minimal synth, and is somehow melodic – another track I am partial to on this disc. Human Drama descends into the gloomy piano based “Lonely”. One can almost see this piece being played in a red velvet smoking jacket with candelabra set upon the piano. This song brings a new element of sound to this compilation that was a little unexpected, but contributes nicely to the variety on this release. Rajna’s self titled track begins beautifully, and the vocals that accompany the music are perfectly matched without completely dominating the piece. It has a definite eastern flair, and the voice seems to convey a sense of intense longing. A mellow, but very nice track. Lovespirals, “Swollen Sea”, is an overwhelmingly ethereal piece with nice lyrical content. This is the most intensely layered, echoing and entrancing piece on the disc. The final track on this release is a cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Unto Ashes. This is definitely a step away from this band’s usual fare of medieval-folk music. Acoustic guitar, very light and mellow makes up the music for this piece, but the vocals are definitely in the Unto Ashes tradition, of male and female vocals combinations that are quite captivating.
All in all, Projekt really did an excellent job at selecting tracks for Projekt: Gothic. They didn’t sit about and pull random stuff that was buried under heaps of dust. I was truly surprised by the selection as there are more good tracks than bad. And again, I have to say, this really is a nice representation of the Projekt label, and for a list price of $4.99, it can’t be beat. - Laura B.
4 Stars For those looking for music beyond the mundane, this compilation from New York-based Projekt is your wish come true. Never avant-garde or wilfully obscure, the artists on this label nevertheless project the idea that they live much more interesting than the most of us. Yet this is no exclusive club and we are all welcome guests. This album features the ethereal majesty of This Ascension’s ‘Mysterium’ - which some readers might remember from Sunday school, though I doubt it ever sounded this sexy in a church. Then there’s Voltaire, who is a Puck-like figure delighting in a story of ‘When You’re Evil’ sounding like Nick Cave if he drank alco-pops. Black Tape For A Blue Girl bring ‘All My Lovers’ to the table which is a story of Prague in the early hours of the morning after too much absinthe – simultaneously sinister and seductive. Rajna offer an eponymous slice of Eastern mysteriousness. The whole sequence is brought to a close by a strange version of ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ originally by Blue Oyster Cult. In the hands of Unto Ashes it becomes a slow, acoustic and beautiful elegy. Ultimately the brew of this album mighty be too heady for some. Then again, not everyone enjoys their first taste of alcohol, but there is something strangely intoxicating that draws you back for more. - Stuart Moses