West Coast Noise – Vol 1 – Various (Compliation Album review)

The connectivity of modern music that the digital age has ushered in can take you down some wonderful musical rabbit holes. One minute you are bopping about to something familiar, something which you have deliberately sought out and a few cursory clicks and lateral links later and you might find yourself immersed in music three genres to the left and being made two continents away. It’s one of the many benefits of the world we live in, something unexpected, spectacular, odd and appealing might be only a button press away…possibly even your next, new favourite band. How cool is that?

And that is how I found myself immersed in the joys of West Coast Noise Vol 1. a new and compelling compilation from Velouria Recordz. A recent discovery going by the name of The City Gates had tumbled out of the review pile, all dark grooves and raincoat collars turned up against an East European Cold War chill and from there it was a short stop on the sonic U-Bahn to find a whole collection of artists who share their musical visions.

Velouria Recordz describe themselves as having a “a crush on post-punk, coldwave, shoegaze, darkwave and new wave,” and that perfectly describes what they have gathered on this 20-track collection. Starting with the band which lead me here, The City Gates offer up Roman Empire, a crawling, brooding slice of Sisters-infused music as cold as the winter winds blowing across the ancient defences from which the band takes its title, a heady blend of power and poise, stark and compelling.

But of course the real fun of such discoveries comes from checking out the music which is totally new to you, and The City Gates travelling companions offer some fantastic sonic experiences. Bizou, a band made up of former members of Smashing Pumpkins, Light FM, Veruca Salt and Wax Idols, bring us Crashing Sky, a euphoric, adrenaline soaked piece of dark-pop, chiming and charming in equal measure. Gravitational from Palm Haze is a gloriously raw and distorted, industrial groove, relentless to the point of being trance-like and hypnotic but balanced with some deft and delicate musical motifs dancing across the top.

She sees Black Nite Crash channelling some of Killing Joke’s shamanic energies, Sun Colony seem to whip up spirals of shimmering sounds into intricate and ornate musical structures on Breeders and Ruin by Darkswoon is a wonderful mix of melancholic pop and dark indie vibes, in some ways the opposite of much of what is found here whilst at the same time being the perfect friend and ally.

Obviously a short review can only deal with tips of icebergs but whether you are an ageing goth or a cutting edge alt-dance diva, a fan of the dark synth pioneers of the post-punk era or just someone looking for a new area of music to explore then this is the place to start. A score of great songs, the start of yet another rabbit hole…or twenty… to be explored and the perfect introduction to Velouria Recordz and their dark and majestic world.

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