darkwave, stephens lust

Tribute to SomaFM’s Darkwave channel ‘doomed’


Somafm.com has streamed an inventive radio channel pioneered by Rusty Hodge and DJ Lucretia featuring, as they called it “Dark industrial/ambient music for tortured souls.” The service was discontinued in 2017 until October Halloween season, which to the Gothic-Ambient-Industrial music crowd signifies the end of an era. Following is a sample of sounds from the dark side.

darkwave music, gothic, Michael Losure
Image courtesy of Michael Losure.

Industrial, Gothic, Darkwave: Sounds for the Doomed Crowd

Dark wave or darkwave music crawled from the 1970s shadows of punk’s violence and rock-n-roll’s commercialism, coinciding with the popularity of New Wave and Post-Punk. Technologically transfigured instrumentation mixed with an undercurrent of death-rock, created a new sound that appealed to the assumedly-depressed set demanding long, ambient or apocalyptic instrumentation and sorrow-infused lyrical introspection. Bela Lugosi supposedly would have approved, but he was already dead.

Black Tape for a Blue GirlApotheosis – “As One Aflame Laid Bare by Desire” – 1999

Earth Shall Not Cover Their Blood

PhragmentsEarth Shall Not Cover Their Blood – 2008

Bauhaus - She's In Parties

Bauhaus – She’s In Parties – “Burning from the Inside” – 1983

This fervent 1980s subculture of black-wearing and looking (almost) dead developed in Europe alongside dark wave music, whose members were called “wavers” or “dark wavers,” or in the US they were also called “doomers.” In Germany, the rich history of Krautrock evolved into something darker, more mesmerizing, which was just called Goth or Gothic.

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Psy 231 - Fear To Faith

Psy 231 – Fear to Faith – A collaboration between Psyclones (Brian Ladd & Julie Frith) and Pacific 231 (Pierre Jolivet) – 1990

During the ’90s, the goth rock genre began to cross-pollinate with synth pop and dream pop, producing the hybrid style of darkwave. Much more somber and ethereal than goth rock’s other offshoot, industrial dance, darkwave was originally defined by bands like Clan of Xymox and Psyche. A second wave of artists would inject other influences, with Dead Can Dance and In the Nursery favoring classical song structures or medieval instrumentation, while Die Form and Lycia brought along sounds that were more avant-garde and ambient.

Joy DivisionEternalformed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. Originally named Warsaw, the band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bass player Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris.

darkwave, stephens lust
Image courtesy of Stephen’s Lust.

The late ’90s would see a rise in darkwave’s popularity thanks to the success of Switchblade Symphony plus Sam Rosenthal‘s group Black Tape for a Blue Girl. While labels like Metropolis and Cleopatra could be classified as mostly industrial imprints that flirted with the style, darkwave became the primary focus of Rosenthal’s @Projekt label. @Projekt acts like Love Spirals Downwards, Unto Ashes, and Voltaire helped usher the darkwave style into the 21st century.

Communion SssEternal Betrayal – She Silenced Seraphim – 2011

… through fragmentary dreams colliding with each other in fluid motion and perpetual entanglement, untouched by limitations of reason and translucid reality, and in pure images and remembrance of archaic past and arcane origins brought forth by sleep and spontaneously ephemeral aberration, I view her alien world — she that silenced seraphim…
dance your dirge

Wumpscut - She's Dead

WumpscutShe’s Dead – “Music for a Slaughtering Tribe” – 2008

Archon Satani - Heavenly Inoculation

Archon Satani – Heavenly Inoculation – “Beyond All Three Sickness” – 1992

Founded in 1997, Unto Ashes are among the foremost purveyors of “blood-lit” music, by which they seek to explore the beautiful and terrible currents that weave themselves through our lives. Their highly original music is informed by Medieval dirges, Apocalyptic Folk, Black Metal, Spinning and Harvest chants, and German Romantic sensibilities. Epic and exalted; claustrophobic and suffocating; vital and menacing; glorious and impenetrable: Unto Ashes is all – and none – of these.

Unto Ashes - Ah, Sunflower!

Unto AshesAh, Sunflower!


strom.ec – Helvetin Esikartano – “Divine Legions Beyond Psyche” – 2008

Check out our recent Spotify re-creation of some of doomed’s finest artists. Stay below, keep the faith…

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  1. martin Roth

    Good piece. Love the music. The political interjection is unfortunate.
    I used to be a hippie, now I’m 60(sixty.(c)

    I am an apolitical watcher of politics. What I cannot fathom, is the nearly blind obedience to the liberal movement that has been hijacked right from under them, by the youth of America? 80% of the media in this Country is a lie, and the only thing the youth believe. I don’t get it? Where is the normal distrust of the industrial media? Where is the enlightened contrarian view? This is because the liberl elite control the r=education process in this Country.

    In truth, I am sorry to say, that whoever you are, if you are a CNN watcher, you are absolutely clueless to the real world. And not the way it should be.

    Sorry, I intended to just say your siece was good, and the highlighted selections awesome.
    Take care,

    • Pretty clueless comment, Marty, seeing as there is no politics in this piece. Maybe you are grasping (or blathering) at shadows? Your “apolitical” politics are showing. There is no CNN here. So please, save your right-wing trollery for somewhere else.

  2. I do not enjoy Doomed now that it seems to be a extremely random “evil laugh” sound generator

  3. The Soma FM Doomed channel is airing music yearly, starting in early October through late November or mid December.

  4. Thank you for your Spotify playlist, Leaffar.

    You have inspired me to create one of my own…

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