Search This Blog

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fresh Prince of Darkwave: Dennis Hudson and OLMS' Gothic Pop

In preparation for this post, I started looking into the definition of “Goth”. Surprisingly, given the extensive use of the term and the clear significance of it, there is no easy definition for the word. The first use of the term for music was in 1967, when someone described the Doors as "Gothic rock". So what makes a thing Gothic?  The primary attributes of Goth seem to be extra-musical elements, that is, elements not directly involved with the rhythm or structure of music, such as the image and appearance of the artist, the artwork and iconography, and lyrical themes. A common critique of Goth is that its' superficial, which is true, at least on the surface. But look deeper and you will find something  discrete and recognizable.  A thing is either Goth or it's not.  We can recognize it when we see it.

Perhaps the best, most concise definition is one I found on a random website, searching 'Goth Culture'.  It was attributed to Beatgrrl;   "Being Goth, for me, is seeing beauty, and its coming destruction, at the same time. For me, it's the last dance as the walls are crumbling around you."

The essence of Dennis Hudson's music reaches back into the '80s, to the Gothic ideal. He  is one of the undiscovered gems among DIY internet producers, pursuing his non-conformist vision with little regard for trends or microgenres. Amazingly, this 20 year old seems to have absorbed the best of the '80s; the synthpop of Tears for Fears and Human League, the industrial dance music of Ministry and Skinny Puppy, and the dream pop of the 4AD artists. But Hudson is no retro or revival act. He uses these bases as starting points, and his material develops and subdues the themes of Goth to his own insatiable will to self expression.

Death,  infinity, corruption, terror and brutality--timeless, cosmic stuff, crying for form; in the hands of Hudson these Gothic themes meet techno-synth-pop in a comfortable marriage of these sensibilities, which find the near-perfect instrument in Hudson's voice,  eerily reminiscent of Jhonn Balance (Coil).  It's music than relates strongly to rock, distinct from its'  younger hip-hop-based cousin, witch house.

Hudson is consistently creative, splitting his energies between the interestingly named White Christian Male, an outlet for his harder, harsher work, and OLMS, devoted to the lighter, more pop-oriented side of darkness. Recent releases have demonstrated a maturing song writing talent, and with Veil he has delivered his best, most appealing set yet.

From the opener "Blowing Kisses Through the Window", through the closing title track, Hudson evinces an ear for melodic hooks, and inventive track making that incorporates contemporary digital effects such as side chain compression and auto-tune, to dazzling effect. In the song "Radio Hero (for Ian)", the peak of the set, he channels Ian Curtis in a totally convincing homage to the patron saint of Gothic rock, in what may be the best song he's written; an undeniably catchy tune, certain to number among the year's best.  For me, as a child of the Eighties, who now champions the  authentic voice of the DIY-internet underground, Hudson's music is a gift, casting an irresistible spell,  linking to the storied past,  while looking toward an uncertain future with an unflinching eye. Highly recommended.


1 comment: