WL//WH Favourite Post-Punk / Darkwave / Synth Albums of 2021

Favourite Post-Punk / Darkwave / Synth Albums of 2021

Creativity is said to be at its best in times of difficulty; I don’t know if this year has been particularly excellent, for sure the music never leaves us when we need it most, this is my usual unassuming partial list, totally spontaneous, unfortunately, I have the habit of not taking notes from week to week, and widely criticized. I conclude with a quote that is always relevant, especially in these times of sneakingly government repression.
“They can take everything from us, but not the ‘right to dream and raving” (Eduardo Galeano). Happy New Year, we’ll seemingly hear from the next. Many thanks to everyone, Ciao!

  • ASKA “út við sundin grá” [Galakthorrö]                                                                                                       

To a label with a sober, minimal aesthetic and little media exposure, a rare thing in these times of blank exteriority, where form matters more than content, like Galakthorrö, the ‘Downbeat Coldwave’ solo project by Islandic artist Kristófer Páll could only find its kindred spirit, who returns with his second album after a very long hiatus of about seven years, if you like in an even more laconic, dark and depressing version. Frigid, raw and arid analog sounds accompanied by fragile sad, at times dissonant, melodies that expand, flex, swish and deflagrate seamlessly to engulf the decadence of a chilling reality that is increasingly dystopian and impenetrable.

Favourite Track:

  • BITUMEN “Cleareye Shining” [Heavy Machinery Records / It Records]                                                             

After a long gestation, the fiercely impassionate and dramatic sophomore LP from Melbourne‘s buzzy industrialized post-punkers does not disappoint with a near-perfect balance of distortion and harmony, driven by magnetic, sassy and powerful female vocals fighting with a charismatic edge through an abrasive and clattering maelstrom of pummeling rhythms, hook-heavy bassline rumbles, guitars whipped and struck with the frightening intensity of thunders bearing down into an all-engulfing black hole of gloom-induced noise rock. ’80s maximalism meets 90s industrial-electro. Robocop meets Basic Instinct’, still not sure what means, but it’s a cool way to end!

Favourite track:

  • DUCTAPE “Labirent” [SwissDarkNights]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Already made quite an impression in 2020, we certainly could not forget the thrilling debut album early in the year from the Turkish duo, where the Istanbul based band deliver all their gripping and sparkling darkwave potential amidst driving rhythms, edgy intriguing guitar riffs, post-punk bassline pulses, and both haunted and cold, yet sensual vocalizations, whose shivering passion, angst and rage add further fuel to an already blazing fire. Fresh from an intense live activity that brought them to Mexico, they’re ready to unleash their sophomore LP at the very start of 2022.

Favourite Track:

  • FACTICE FACTORY “Figments” [Holy Hour Records]                                                                                     

The FrancoBelgian band morph their 80s tinged cold post-punk into an overwhelming emotional trip of hazy psychedelic escapism, rife with morose melodic poignancy, lead by relentless somberly pulsing basslines and metronomic rhythms over an immersive backdrop of atmospheric guitar reverbs, glimmering distortions, subtly pervaded by crawling melancholia, against airy washes of keyboard flow, whilst a sway of cold, surreal echoes and warm emotional pensive longings wander aimlessly through sad and hallucinated daydream of uncertainty and fear. An album to wrap yourself in and slowly make it your own.

Favourite track:

  • GLARING “Nebula” [Wave Tension Records / Peripheral Minimal Records]                                                         

Few artists know how to touch me the right chords, able to elicit somber heartfelt emotions, total immersion in the deep darkness of the soul, wandering along dense melancholy and suffering shadows, but from which also faint rays of hope filter, among shimmering atmospheric ripples and oneiric turmoils, generated by heart-beating crispy percussions, solemn bright synth swathe, bleak buzzing basslines, crystalline guitar reverbs, whose already sad evocativeness is sharpened by airy vocalizations full of painful restlessness, gauzy and ethereal, yet so extraordinarily poignant and penetrating. A dark and bewitching record capable of giving us new emotive nuances, after each time of listening.

Favourite Track:

  • GRUNDEIS “Amygdala” [UNDRESSED Records]                                                                                                                                                                       

A compelling band that stroke me from day one, Hamburg based 4-piece Grundeis weave sombre ghostly post-punk and gothy darkwave, punk in spirit yet immersively atmospheric and articulated in setting, now raw and biting, now disturbing and visionary, exuding meandering tension and great emotional transport, amidst icy, chilling guitars, snaky basslines and obsessive drumming, whilst powerful, emotional, and haunted vocals unbind defiant fear and broken desire into heavy strains of harsh shredding pain. A seductive charismatic voice that strikes at the heart combined with sparkling guitar work and a remarkable songwriting quality make for one of the debuts of the year.

Favourite Track:

  • HANTE. “Morning Tsunami” [Synth Religion]                                                                                                                               

Parisian one-woman synth extraordinaire perfects the futuristic and dystopic electronic sound design that coats her distinctive haunting vocals to a sharp balance of crystalline production, lush and hypnotic synthetic textures, and propulsive ghostly rhythmic tension rife with vibrating emotional and edgy intensity, to create a visceral magic darkwave universe wreathed in ethereal obscurity and relentless melancholy and desolation, that stir and captivates with a dark, brooding yet seductive allure.

Favourite Track:

  • KOMPROMISSION [KPMN] Oscillations Urbaines” [IDIO[T]PHONE RECORDS]                                                 

Operating on the solid foundations of Post-Industrial edge and Martial aesthetics, the new project of Parisian musician DullmistKOMPROMISSION [KPMN], morphs the echoes of his 80s influences into a cloudy maze of colliding bleak emotions to set up minimal, terse and danceable dystopic synthscapes to stir a heartfelt and visceral dialogue between the soul and the machines, delivering a familiar, yet gripping and poignant analog synthetic sound carved in Brutalist geometry and drenched in neon-lit noir existential dread and bitter romanticism.

Favourite track:           

  • MADMOIZEL “Blue” [TONN Recordings]