Jonn Gauntletier is best known as half of the Florida-based darkwave/dream-pop duo Pass/Ages (Katuktu Collective) and former frontman of the post-punk band Ars Phoenix (Etxe Records & Productions, Popnihil, Dead Tank Records / Distribution).
In his first solo outing, 2017‘s “Self-Made Cell, Vol. 1” (available at Pass/Age Bandcamp), Gauntletier blends various forms of post-punk, -wave, and industrial music in unpredictable ways that are entirely his own, from existential synth-noir ballads (“January Freeze” and “Sympathy Withers”) and gloomy, reverb-shrouded polemics (“Goodnight Democracy” and “Logic as Violence”) to jagged post-punk/synthpop gems (“Self-Made Cell” and “Transfiguration [My Logo]”).
His forthcoming album, “Horrorpop”, due out in 2020, builds on this blueprint and uses the title as a genre statement for his body of work: Horrorpop is Gauntletier‘s term for fusing the tension and gravitas of horror film scores with the hooks and structures of electronic pop songs and lyrical themes from modernist, symbolist, and Gothic literature. For Halloween 2019, Gauntletier teased “Horrorpop” with a limited edition single/demo, “Ghost in the Drum Machine”.
Ultimately Gauntletier‘s work continues to differ from more polished takes on modern wave, Goth, and industrial music by using professional as well as experimental/DIY production techniques to juxtapose hi-fi cinematics with lo-fi/mid-fi indie-synth, because the best horror has some grain on the footage.
The video for the track “No Exit,” WL//WH is very pleased to premiere, is a labyrinthine exercise in psychological /existential terror with lines inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, and Walter Benjamin.
According to Gauntletier, the song’s lyrics could be linked to what Howard Zinn‘s (deceased 90s US historian, and socialist thinker) saying, ‘you can’t be neutral on a moving train’. In times of great social and political conflict, some wish to remain neutral or even transcend the discord. This is an impossibility because there is no escape from our historical circumstances.’
Starting off with frozen swells of dramatic, cinematic synths, sharpen by eerie gleaming swirls and loud solemn muffled drumbeats, to create a overwhelming, equally obscure and mysterious, tension-ridden mood, as pensive, yet astonished voice, pierced by twangy sharp guitar cuts, convey an all-encompassing sense of existential terror and claustrophobic anxiety weighted by obsessive “no exit” robotic vocal reiterations, until progressively deep throbbing bassline drops in, fueled by pounding snares and string-like glowing synth, building a frenzied crescendo of hopeless escape, before slowly but inexorably descending into the dreadful, bleak ‘nowness’ of the maze.
The visuals, directed by Kutayden, move along tirelessly through a tumultuous and nightmarish juxtaposition of powerful and unsettling dark natural images and an overall suffocating atmosphere of human anguish, fear and foreboding, delving profoundly into our age of social media-fueled isolation and worldly turmoil, where nothing seems possible outside the current regrettable, oppressive, narrow-minded society and people, like marbles, fall randomly into the infinite, tight corridors of a hopeless maze with seemingly ‘no exit’ and only a few, the bolder and clear-headed, will find a way-out.
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