In this instalment of Tales From The Darkside, our esteemed UK reviewer Goth Mark focuses on the post punk, darkwave, goth, and coldwave scenes from France. The closest European neighbour to the British Isles, France is known for interesting culinary delights, beautiful scenery, unusual and funky cars, and is pretty well known for some decent metal bands too (Gorija, Deathspell Omega, and Merrimack to name a few). Turns out, if you scratch beneath the surface they have a vibrant and invigorating “gothy” scene that’s of amazing bands too. Awesome.
Born at the end of 2002, Frustration formed from a bunch of lads originating in Paris that have a shared collective interest in post punk/coldwave/and indie genres started by Fabrice Gilbert, that’s influenced by the bands he loves (Wire, Joy Division, Warsaw, Crisis, Killing Joke). The band name is derived from the song ‘Frustration’ by Crisis, as found on their 1980 album ‘Hymns of Faith’ (whose band members went on to join Death In June and Theatre of Hate).
Frustration are a five piece band comprised of Fabrice on vocals, Fred Campo on synths, Mark Adolf on drums, Nicolas Duteli on guitar, and lastly Pat D on bass. To date, they have 6 studio albums and a number of EP’s/singles, with their most current album ‘So Called Streams’ released in October 2018; an album that doesn’t immediately grab you first time around, but upon repeated listens is maddeningly addictive.
Band: Rendez Vous
Formed in 2012 by Francis Mallari and Elliot Bethault, Rendez Vous are a band that are supremely captivating and exploded onto the post punk and gothic scenes with rapid popularity. Inspired by such bands as Wire, The Wake, Wipers, Joy Division with a delightful sprinkling of Gary Numan-esque synthesisers and 1980s new romantic pop sensibilities into their sonic brew as witnessed in their phenomenal 6 track ‘Distance’ EP. Their debut album ‘Superior State’ is a beautifully executed exercise in perfect post punk with tunes like ‘Sentimental Animals’ that will have you throwing phat Alan Partridge bass shapes, with an insane arse shaking stomp that will have you humming their tunes for weeks on end. Insanely addictive, captivating, uplifting, and quite frankly one of the best bands out there. To ignore them, is to be a tone deaf root vegetable. Simple as that.
Band: Velvet Condom
Status: On temporary hiatus
In 2005, Alice Gift and Oberst Panizza met in Strausbourg and decided they were fed up with “classic guitar bands”, and shared a collective interest in the coldwave genre combined with a love of synthesisers and drum machines. They decided to do something about this, and the strangely titled Velvet Condom project was born. Utilising a mixing pot of shoegaze guitar riffs, and deeply infectious synth arrangements reminiscent of Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, and Gary Numan that are highly stylised and somehow classy and sleazy both at the same time; evoking that deeply nostalgic 1980s magic that sounded like the future, right here and right now. Video evidence of their live shows looked stunning and sounded impressive, captivating the audience with half the band members needed for most bands to pull a decent live performance – they were simply that good.
Annoyingly, they’re currently on hiatus but formed a side project called Liste Noire that have an EP called ‘Afire Afire’, and a debut album called ‘Brace’ following on as a logical extension from Velvet Condom. As a result, Liste Noire sounds like one of the best obscure 1980s synth soaked new romantic bands you’ve never heard – and equally as cool.
Band: Corpus Delicti
Corpus Delicti were a post punk/goth band from Nice, that formed in 1992 and broke up in 1997. They were a classic post punk band in every sense of the definition, influenced in particular by David Bowie, Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Cure, Bauhaus, Dead Can Dance, Chameleons, Rozz Williams, Joy Division, and New Model Army. They embarked on successful tours of Europe, the UK and USA touring with the likes of Faith and the Muse, and Rosetta Stone where they developed something of a cult following.
Despite the fact they split many years ago with band members that formed up Press Gang Metropol, their mark has been indelibly burnt into the goth music scene where their songs are often aired in nightclubs that have a fondness for dry ice, snake bite, and mysterious people that have a fondness for pointy shoes. They left 3 albums are as their legacy in the form of ‘Twilight’, ‘Sylphes’, and their final curtain call ‘Obsessions’, with tracks found on various gothic rock compilation albums throughout the years.
Band: Jessica 93
Founded in 2010 in Paris, Jessica 93 originally started off as a side project created by Geoff Laporte who was playing in several local bands, and was suggested by a friend that he should do a solo project because Geoff found himself frustrated waiting around for bands to do tours and wanted to get some music out of his system. However, Jessica 93 turned into a band of its very own when there was demand for people to see his songs performed live; that are now comprised of Geoff on guitars/vocals, Henri Adam on bass, Eric Bricka on guitars, and lastly David Snug on drum machines/cymbals.
The influences are quite clear, a melting pot of grunge and indie influences combined with post punk; a strange mix of 1980s having a jam session with the 1990s when you listen to more recent tracks such as ‘Venus Flytrap’ whilst ‘Poison’ is very dark, brooding, with heavy gothic influences underpinned by rumbling Godflesh-esque bass guitar riffs. To date, they have one live album, 3 studio albums, and a self titled EP.
Until next time, keep it weirdcore.
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