The Dark Corner: Ono Scream’s Self-Titled Debut
For us metalheads who moonlight as goths and vice versa, The Dark Corner will attempt to shed light on new happenings in the world of new wave, post-punk, and all things goth-related. If this sounds right up your shadowy alley, light up a clove and prepare to get moody.
In my exploration of all things new and goth emerging this year, I keep coming back to an album that hasn’t received nearly the attention I feel it deserves. Coldly ethereal and distant but warm, Ono Scream’s self-titled debut is sure to prove itself a no-brainer inclusion amongst the best goth and cold wave releases of the year.
The solo project of Belgium band Apparaat’s frontman Bart Willems, Ono Scream is heavily influenced by Willem’s childhood influences such as Bauhaus and early Simple Minds. A nod to Joy Division would be hard to ignore, especially considering the album was released by French label Unknown Pleasures Records, but this album is no hackneyed tribute to the legends of the heyday. Tracks like opener “I’m the Hollow Man” and “Leather Girl” have a modern, danceable despondency that feels too fresh to be nostalgic. The standout track for me is “This Endless Walking;” its hypnotic circular drone creates the perfect concavity for a simple, driving beat and obscured lyrics that enter the subconscious and create their own story therein. It’s one of my favorite effects an artist of any type can utilize, like an abstract painting that forces the viewer to create their own narrative using the non-specific language (visual in that context, aural here) combined with subjective experiences to imbue meaning on the piece.
If all of that sounds like absurd esoteric bullshit, fear not: the tracks converge in peak heaviness around halfway through. “What Have They Done,” with its electronic wall of sludgy, dark noise, is the perfect backdrop for one of the album’s clearest vocal refrains: “Oh Father, help me. He’s making a mess.” This leads into the more uptempo industrialized jam “Seventh of Seven,” arguably the most dancefloor-ready of the collection. The peak then dies back down, and we edge into more relaxed territory with the Mark Lanegan-esque “You Shut Your Mind” before bringing if full circle with an acoustic version of “Hollow Man.” With this solo debut, Willems succeeds in creating a fully actualized composition from top to bottom.