Music Reviews

Di Auger: Black Swans At Dawn album review

Di Auger: Black Swans At Dawndiauger17


Released 2016


Industrial Gothic from Toronto’s Di Auger.

Di Auger is the musical output of Chris Lefort, a well-known face on the Toronto goth scene as DJ, artist and photographer. Black Swans At Dawn is Di Auger’s seventh release.

Toronto has always had a thriving goth scene. Di Auger mixes up goth, industrial and electronica to create Neo-industrial goth rock. A soundtrack to the harsh times we live in that still feels like it offers hope in the darkness.

It is perhaps no coincidence that in these neo-liberal days of repression – so like the 1980s where goth was hatched – that a harsh, dark music has grown again in popularity.

Whilst pure punk rock offers rebellion with (usually) left leaning politics, it has become the music of your dad (or even your granddad) and all politics to a disenfranchised generation is rejected. So the disaffected turn to the darkness to dance away the horror.

Di Auger’s driving beats, coruscating electronica and harsh, brittle rhythms conjures up decaying industrial landscapes, and the brutality of repression.

The heavy pounding dance beats of opening track Abomination sets the tone. This is dark electronica that pounds at the heart and head. The track Behind The Veil builds up in tension, whilst Pathetic and Optimistic Nihilist explode out of the speakers and don’t let up. The latter is reminiscent of Laibach. Circle of Ghosts could easily have been written for a John Carpenter horror film. At times the vocals are strident like a dictator extolling the crowd, at other times like the chanting of religious ceremony and, as on Rose Eater, the vocals ae down in the mix, bubbling up like a deus ex machina. At times Di Auger can slip into melodrama, as on Rose Of Decay, but this is a minor complaint.

For me the highlight is the title rack, Black Swans At Dawn. A beautiful, dark song that starts with ambient electronica before guttural, harsh chords cut through the sound. Lyrically it is about how we all die, yet we all long to fly, which sums up the album nicely. Yes, this is dark music, but it offers freedom of the senses, freedom of thought, freedom to embrace the darkness and live anyway. To dream to fly.

Well worth a listen.

Di Auger are on Facebook and Twitter.

This review first appeared on Louder Than War

Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Nahko & Medicine For The People: Hoka album review

NAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE nahko-and-medicine-for-the-people-hoka-album-review
The spiritual journey of Nahko continues.

The new album from Nahko opens with Hoka, a Lakota word meaning call to action. Across the nineteen songs of Hoka we are taken on a journey with Nahko and encouraged to act, to stand up and be counted.

Nahko was adopted as a baby by white middle-class Americans, who introduced him to music via piano lessons. Tracing his family he discovered a Puerto Rican, Native American and Filipino heritage. His mother was still alive but his father had been murdered in 1994. Whilst this may have created a schizophrenic existence, Nahko has blended this heritage into uplifting and challenging music. The music mixes up blues, folk, hip-hop, rap, reggae and Latin rhythms. Songs like Great Spirit implores us to see all people as the same, whilst Love Letter To God begins with anger against oppression, but ends in a message of hope. What could be mawkish is heartfelt, never more so than in San Quentin.

It’s a song about the journey that Nahko made to meet the man who had murdered his father. The song starts with staccato guitar that is full of tension. He sings that he’s “come a long way to tell you this story – there’s no turning back now.” Nahko forgives him and is empowered by the forgiveness. It’s a story that few of us can imagine.

An uplifting album for our harsh times.


All words by Mark Ray. This review first appeared in Louder Than War magazine issue 5 July/August 2016

Music Reviews

A Giant Dog: Pile – Album review

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Third album from Texas rockers.

Houston band A Giant Dog release their third album, the first for Merge Records, and show a keener understanding of what they are trying to achieve; which in their case is to make a great sound mixing grunge, glam and punk. Sabrina Ellis’ vocals are a powerful tool and when backed with killer bass lines, pounding drums and razor sharp guitars it’s a potent mix of short, sharp attacks detailing the seedier side of life and the vicissitudes of youth. But there’s enough nuance in songs like Jizzney and Get With You And Get High that show the band are capable of more. In rock’s heyday if you threw a song like I’ll Come Crashing at the charts it would have been a smash. A record that should be pounding out of deadbeat parties this summer.

All words by Mark Ray. This review first appeared in Louder Than War magazine issue 5 July/August 2016