Darkness on the Dancefloor - New Darkwave Ravers - Livan and Legion Within

Livan – Happy Returns

Back in my days at KSPC FM, I always loved it when I found a secret nugget that could leap across the spectrum, simultaneously satisfying several basic musical needs. Being totally immersed in the gloom and doom genre with bands like Southern Death Cult, early Echo and the Bunnymen, and Theater of Hate, I wanted my music dark and menacing, weighty, hinting at the deep vacancies echoing in my soul. At the same time, I wasn’t looking to commit suicide; I still wanted the music to have a definite kick, a killer bass line and enough punch and vim to get my ass out of the chair and dancing around the studio. When I found a band that could successfully combine these disparate needs. I was in heaven. Bands like Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Tones on Tail, heck even Gene Loves Jezebel and Dormanuu found the inherent groove in the darkside.

Now there’s Livan.

Ask the guy who his influences are and I’m sure you’ll get names like David Bowie, Peter Murphy, and Bauhaus, and while those sounds are there, in truth there’s much more. Bring in a some muscular guitar like early Clash, some of the industrial moodiness of Nine Inch Nails, a smattering of the darker tones of Joy Division, and what results is as much a journey through tone and mood as it is music; all amped up enough to keep the lights swirling in glorious kaleidoscopes on the dancefloor.

Beginning with a stabbing percussion, “King of the World,” starts us on our charging ride of post punk dance. Sounding far more Peter Murphy than Bauhaus, sneering, snotty Bowie-esque vocals layer over the hammering beat, darkly funky bass, and raining guitar chords with a heavy dose of brooding. Check out the sneer in Livan’s voice as he rages into the chorus, which immediately launches the song into the realm of neo-industrial dance at its best. Fully theatrical in it’s approach, and way, way, way over the top, it’s not quite dance music for the goth crowd but enough to fill the floor of any post-punk raver. Flickering lights, fluorescent facepaint, tie-dyed hair. Yep, it’s all here. If I’d put this on back in the studio, I probably would have missed my next segue, too busy dancing my white boy ass off in the hallways to notice the song was ending. This is dance music I can get behind. Or get my behind behind.

Legion Within - Mouth of Madness

Let's keep the darkness flowing. Coming out on industrial monster KMFDM's own label, Legion Within strays far from the roots of their benefactors. Blending in a deep gothic sound over their trance inducing beats, Legion Within infuse their swirling, hypnotic and all-together catchy dance music with layers and layers of haunting electronics and overt theatrics. In this regard, they come across more as Peter Murphy mixed with early Cabaret Voltaire than KMFDM or what you might expect to come from the hard industrial world.

"Someone's Speaking," starts off with a repetitive synth run before the full fury of their dancefloor maelstrom erupts. The vocals are more than reminiscent of Peter Murphy, but trust me, that's a good thing. For this music they work perfectly, carrying the tone of menace and sinister sexuality through the long-held, sustained notes and subtle whiny flourishes. Yes, there is an inherent sexuality in the darkside. Synths continue to pound at me like waves of tsunamis crashing against the shore. In fact the whole song rushes over me like that gushing waterwall, sweeps me up in it's torrential flow and carries me off to some darkened, strobe-lit, kaleidoscopic nirvana. Yes, if you like darkwave dance music, you'll agree. The song really is that good.

The rest of the album follows suit. Hints of Bauhaus drop into "Mouth of Madness." A brighter, almost Church-like guitar tone graces "Golden Voyage," which goes on to sound like a long-lost, and much missed Peter Murphy outtake. "The Empire is Burning," rains down in a hail of distorted synth and crashing percussion, bringing back the thoughts of Cabaret Voltaire. Textures of light and heavy, bright and crushingly dark, filter through the album, And the cats aren't content to let the dark tones run amok. They play with dynamics, stop-starts, mood swings, guitar tones, operatic mood vocals, to keep the album lively. Sure it all sounds vaguely familiar, but that's fine with me. It's a sound I crave.

Welcome to the darkside, now please pass the whiskey.





Legion Within