After the light last week, there must be darkness, I guess. So despite the spring weather, I’m heading into the dark.
/Subject /Dark, Darkness
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /331/The Nightmare I Am /486/Lightbringer /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/94 /Used Prior/17 /Unique Songs/57 /People Suggesting/48
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/49:27
There are a whole host of interpretations for some of the themes that I use in the /Tuesday Ten series, and this week was no exception – even if a couple of the songs I would have otherwise used had been featured before (nowadays, I do my best not to repeat). As usual, thanks to everyone who suggested or got involved.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/The Blinding Dark
Covenant have traditionally been a band who’ve balanced darkness with light, their darker, deeper moments countered by joyous, skyscraping anthems. The Blinding Dark, their latest full-length album from 2016, rather changed that, as they rushed headlong into the dark. Everything was shrouded in monochrome colours here, a subdued and often quite brilliant collection of songs that, in retrospect, seemed to herald the bleak times to come. The pick of the album was the slow, malevolent Morning Star, which saw Eskil Simonsson make unusual, oblique political comment, as he cast an eye on an unkind world and was disappointed with what he observed. There is some element of hope, though, as he fixates on the darkness to be able to see the light that follows.
PJ Harvey’s musical stylings have changed almost from album to album, especially on her more recent work, and White Chalk took her into ghostly folk, with her voice in a higher register than usual. Dear Darkness has Harvey attempting a deal with the fates, accompanied by just brittle piano. It’s clear luck hasn’t been on their side, and so darkness and failure is a constant companion – and so the request goes in for just one glimpse of light and better times. The request is never answered, at least in the song, so it appears the dark times continue.
/Back Side of the Moon
/The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld
The moon has captivated humans for as long as they’ve been on Earth, but remarkably it took until 1959 when Soviet craft Luna 3 provided us with the first images of the far side of the moon – otherwise known as the “Dark side” as humans had never seen most of it. The US Apollo 8 mission then allowed the crew to see the far side of the moon for themselves, becoming the first humans to see it with their own eyes. Needless to say, there have been a few songs about these momentous events (and the staggering Public Service Broadcasting live highlight The Other Side was certainly considered), but the dark, mellow ambience of the Orb taking us on a trip through space feels like the darkest option I had.
From the heights of space to the depths of the abyss, where the sea reaches unimaginable depths, little life can survive amid an environment lacking in oxygen and light, and under extreme pressure. Here Wolfe appears to imagine the depths of hers and others’ darkest thoughts as if they were dragging them down into the abyss, and how they fight back against the pull downwards. Wolfe has always been an artist fascinated with the darkest realms humans can reach, but she surpassed herself on this track – and indeed on much of the rest of this album.
One of the greatest songs by the perpetually underrated Echobelly – one of the rare bands from the Britpop era to not be entirely white and male – is a smouldering ballad that as the title suggests, is rather darker than much of their other output. The titular therapy is a practice where patients are kept in complete darkness to treat psychological conditions, but this Sonya Madan’s lyrics here suggest a very different activity in the dark, that’s for sure.
/Velvet Acid Christ
/The Dark Inside Me
/Fun With Knives
The still-remarkable Fun With Knives is probably the archetypal VAC album, and certainly the one where as an artist they broke through to wider attention, thanks to a number of dancefloor bangers that pepper the album, but also a sound that was beginning to move into industrial-dance realms (something was explored more fully on Twisted Thought Generator). Previous single Phucking Phreak had shown Bryan Erickson’s talent for shaping samples through his songs, and here the trick was repeated with a number of films. Elements of the terrifying Event Horizon made up the sparse lyrics for the thundering power of The Dark Inside Me, one of the greatest dancefloor tracks VAC ever released – and one that is definitely about a fear of the dark.
/Sunglasses After Dark
/Songs the Lord Taught Us
The glorious, after-dark rockabilly lunacy of The Cramps was always going to feature in this /Tuesday Ten, wasn’t it? It was only a case of picking the right song. Sunglasses After Dark nails the requirement brilliantly, as the band pick apart two older songs like vultures and then reassemble them like some kind of mad scientist. The original song that supplied the lyrics was a Teenage tragedy by Dwight “Whitey” Pullen from the late fifties, where some kid that thinks they are cool wearing the titular sunglasses gets knifed by a teenage gang member. The Cramps switch the feel somewhat, making it sound like the coolest thing in the world to wear sunglasses in the dark, even if the protagonist still meets a grim death…
Early heavy metal band Metal Church wrote an album called The Dark, and the title track is pretty much about the fear of the Dark. It’s dark, there are noises outside, there are monsters and evil out there, and it reads as if it is part of a child’s nightmare, uncertain if those noises they are hearing are in their imagination or not, and what they are seeing is in their dreams or not. Yep, the dark as a child can be a frightening place. Bearing in mind that this song comes from 1986, by the way, it absolutely slaps.
/The Birthday Massacre
/Kill The Lights
/Walking With Strangers
The Birthday Massacre has a dark streak beneath their often pop-edged goth rock, and the balance between the two seems to be what has brought them such success over the past decade or so. This song, one of their earlier ones now, sums up that balance nicely. Twinkling synths scatter stardust over a surprisingly muscular rock backing, and Chibi reminds us that real life is far darker than any fairy tale could be, while back in their actual lives, they put on a show and a happy face to match, when life is really, well, darkness.
/Batman’s Song (Untitled Self Portrait)
/The Lego Movie OST
Life is darkness for Batman, as well, and the surprise smash hit The Lego Movie had fantastic fun parodying Batman – and probably resulted in the greatest portrayal of the legendary DC Comics character, too. It was best put in the short song that is featured in the film, where Will Arnett voices Batman as a goth “crooner”, as he details that his life is just darkness, in every way possible – but one of extreme privilege, too.
“Darkness, no parents…  Super-rich, kinda makes it better“