|Cultural origins||Late 1970s – early 1980s, Europe (particularly in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy)|
Dark wave is a music genre that emerged from the new wave and post-punk movement of the late 1970s.Dark wave compositions are largely based on minor key tonality and introspective lyrics, and have been perceived as being dark, romantic, and bleak, with an undertone of sorrow. Common features include the use of chordophones such as electric and acoustic guitar, violin, and piano, as well as electronic instruments such as synthesizer, sampler, and drum machine. The genre embraces a range of styles including cold wave, ethereal wave, gothic rock, neoclassical dark wave, and neofolk.
New wave is a genre of pop-oriented rock music popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s with ties to mid-1970s punk rock. New wave moved away from traditional blues and rock and roll sounds to create rock music or pop music (later) that incorporated disco, mod, and electronic music. Initially new wave was similar to punk rock, before becoming a distinct genre. It subsequently engendered subgenres and fusions, including synth-pop.
Post-punk is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and diverse influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. Communities that produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.
A chordophone is a musical instrument that makes sound by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points. It is one of the four main divisions of instruments in the original Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification.
In the 1980s, a subculture developed primarily in Europe alongside dark wave music, whose followers were called waversor dark wavers. In some countries such as Germany, the movement also included fans of gothic rock (so-called trad-goths).
Since the 1980s,the term has been used in Europe to describe the gloomy and melancholy variant of new wave and post-punk music. At that time, the term "goth" was inseparably connected with gothic rock, whereas "dark wave" acquired a broader meaning, including music artists that were associated with gothic rock and synthesizer-based new wave music, such as Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, Anne Clark, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, and The Chameleons.
Bauhaus were an English rock band, formed in Northampton, England in 1978. The group consisted of Daniel Ash, Peter Murphy, Kevin Haskins (drums) and David J (bass). The band was originally named Bauhaus 1919 in reference to the first operating year of the German art school Bauhaus, although they shortened the name within a year of formation. One of the pioneers of gothic rock, Bauhaus were known for their dark image and gloomy sound, although they mixed many genres, including dub, glam rock, psychedelia and funk.
Joy Division were an English rock band formed in Salford in 1976. The group consisted of vocalist Ian Curtis, guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris.
The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley in 1976. The group has experienced several line-up changes, with vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member. The Cure first began releasing music in the late 1970s with their debut album Three Imaginary Boys (1979); this, along with several early singles, placed the band as part of the post-punk and new wave movements that had sprung up in the wake of the punk rock revolution in the United Kingdom. During the early 1980s, the band's increasingly dark and tormented music was a staple of the emerging style of music known as gothic rock.
The term darkwave originated in the 1980s as an indicator of the dark counterpart of new wave. Bands such as Cocteau Twins, Soft Cell, and Depeche Mode are exponents of this first generation of darkwave. Darkwave ... employs relatively slower tempos, lower pitches, and more minor keys in its musical settings of melancholy texts than new wave.— Isabella van Elferen, Professor of Musicology, Kingston University, London
The movement spread internationally, developing such strands as ethereal wave, with bands such as Cocteau Twins, and neoclassical dark wave, initiated by the music of Dead Can Dance and In the Nursery.French cold wave groups such as Clair Obscur and Opera Multi Steel have also been associated with the dark wave scene; Rémy Lozowski, guitarist of French cold wave band Excès Nocturne, described his music as new wave noire ('dark new wave').
Ethereal wave, also called ethereal goth or simply ethereal, is a subgenre of dark wave music and is variously described as "gothic", "romantic", and "otherworldly". Developed in the early 1980s in the UK as an outgrowth of gothic rock, ethereal wave was mainly represented by 4AD bands such as Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and early guitar-driven Dead Can Dance.
Cocteau Twins were a Scottish rock band active from 1979 to 1997. They were formed in Grangemouth by Elizabeth Fraser (vocals), Robin Guthrie, and Will Heggie (bass), with Heggie replaced by multi-instrumentalist Simon Raymonde in 1983.
Dead Can Dance is an Australian-British musical project formed in 1981 in Melbourne by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. The band relocated from Melbourne to London in May 1982. Australian music historian Ian McFarlane described Dead Can Dance's style as "constructed soundscapes of mesmerising grandeur and solemn beauty; African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern mantras, and art rock."
Simultaneously, different substyles associated with the new wave and dark wave movements started to merge and influence each other, e.g. synth-wave(a kind of new wave with synthesizers, also referred to as "electro-wave" ) with gothic rock, or began to borrow elements of post-industrial music. Attrition, Die Form (France), Pink Industry (UK), Psyche (Canada), Kirlian Camera (Italy), and Clan of Xymox (Netherlands) performed this music in the 1980s. Other bands such as Malaria!, and The Vyllies added elements of chanson and cabaret music. This sort of dark wave music became known as cabaret noir (or dark cabaret, a term popularized by U.S. dark wave label Projekt Records).
Attrition are an electronic music band, formed in Coventry, England in 1980 by goth Martin Bowes and Julia Niblock. The band emerged from the experimental post-punk scene of the early 1980s and, along with other groups such as Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and In the Nursery, greatly contributed to the development of industrial music in the UK. Still active 30 years later, Attrition have been a stanchion of darkwave and industrial music, influencing many younger bands in the genres while continuously fine tuning their own distinctive sound.
Die Form is a French post-industrial and electronic band formed in 1977-78. The name 'Die Form' means '(the) form/shape' in German, like the Bauhaus diary, and is a play on the English homonym 'deform' and on the French homonym 'difforme' (deformed).
Pink Industry were a post-punk band from Liverpool formed by Jayne Casey after her previous band Pink Military split up in 1981.
German dark wave bands were partially associated with the Neue Deutsche Welle (i.e. German new wave),and included Xmal Deutschland, Mask For, Asmodi Bizarr, II. Invasion, Unlimited Systems, Moloko †, Maerchenbraut , Cyan Revue, Leningrad Sandwich, Stimmen der Stille, Belfegore, and Pink Turns Blue.
After the new wave and post-punk movements faded in the mid-1980s,dark wave was renewed as an underground movement by German bands such as Girls Under Glass, Deine Lakaien, Love Like Blood, Love Is Colder Than Death, Diary of Dreams, The Eternal Afflict, and Wolfsheim, as well as Project Pitchfork and its offshoot Aurora Sutra. Ataraxia and The Frozen Autumn from Italy, and the French Corpus Delicti also evolved from this movement and became the leading artists of the west Romanesque scene. All of these bands followed a path based on the new wave and post-punk music of the 1980s.
In the 1990s, a second generation of darkwave bands became popular, including Diary of Dreams, Deine Lakaien, and The Frozen Autumn... The German band Deine Lakaien ... is audibly influenced by the dark synthesizer sounds of Depeche Mode.— Isabella van Elferen, Professor of Musicology
At the same time, a number of German artists, including Das Ich, Goethes Erben, Relatives Menschsein, and Endraum,developed a more theatrical style, interspersed with German poetic, metaphorical lyrics, called Neue Deutsche Todeskunst (literally New German Death Art). Other bands, such as Silke Bischoff, In My Rosary, Engelsstaub, and Impressions of Winter combined synthesizers with elements of neofolk and neoclassical dark wave.
After 1993, in the United States the term dark wave (as the one-word variant 'darkwave') became associated with the Projekt Records label,because it was adopted by label founder Sam Rosenthal after leafing through the pages of German music magazines such as Zillo, and has been used to promote and market artists from German label Hyperium Records in the U.S., e.g. Chandeen and Love Is Colder Than Death.
I first became aware of the term "Dark Wave" back in 1992. It appeared in German magazines – such as Zillo – describing a style of European music that followed other "waves" such as New Wave ... I found those two words ("dark" and "wave") quite interesting. This was something underground, submerged, obscure... which swept over you, immersed you, surrounded you. It was a poetic phrase that could describe many different sounds. At the time, I was looking for a name for my little mail-order company. I wanted something that would encompass the variety of music available in my catalog.— Sam Rosenthal, Projekt Records, 2000
Projekt features bands such as Lycia, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, and Love Spirals Downwards, some of these characterized by atmospheric guitar and synth-sounds and female vocals. This style took cues from 1980s bands like Cocteau Twinsand is often referred to as ethereal dark wave. Projekt has also had a long association with Attrition, who appeared on the label's earliest compilations. Another American record label in this vein was Tess Records, which featured This Ascension, Faith and the Muse, and the reunited Clan of Xymox.
Joshua Gunn, a professor of communication studies at Louisiana University, described the U.S. type of dark wave music as
an expansion of the rather limited gothic repertoire into electronica and, in a way, the US answer to the 'ethereal' subgenre that developed in Europe (e.g. Dead Can Dance). Anchored by Sam Rosenthal's now New York-based label Projekt, dark wave music is less rock and more roll, supporting bands who tend to emphasize folk songcraft, hushed vocals, ambient experimentation, and synthesized sounds [...] Projekt bands like Love Spirals Downwards and Lycia are the most popular of this subgenre.
The goth subculture is a subculture that began in England during the early 1980s, where it developed from the audience of gothic rock, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The name, goth subculture, derived directly from the music genre. Notable post-punk groups that presaged that genre and helped develop and shape the subculture, include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Bauhaus and The Cure. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify and spread throughout the world. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from 19th-century Gothic literature and gothic horror films. The scene is centered on music festivals, nightclubs and organized meetings, especially in Western Europe.
Deathrock is a rock music subgenre incorporating horror elements and gothic theatrics. It emerged from punk rock on the West Coast of the United States in the early 1980s and overlaps with the gothic rock and horror punk genres. Notable deathrock acts include Christian Death, Kommunity FK, 45 Grave, and Super Heroines.
Wave-Gotik-Treffen is an annual world festival for "dark" music and "dark culture" in Leipzig, Germany. 150+ bands and artists from various backgrounds play at several venues throughout the city over four days on Whitsuntide. The festival also features several fairs with medieval, gothic and cultural merchandise.
Dark ambient is a genre of post-industrial music that features an ominous, dark droning and often gloomy, monumental or catacombal atmosphere, partially with discordant overtones. It shows similarities towards ambient music, a genre that has been cited as a main influence by many dark ambient artists, both conceptually and compositionally. Although mostly electronically generated, dark ambient also includes the sampling of hand-played instruments and semi-acoustic recording procedures, and is strongly related to ritual industrial music.
Neofolk, also known as post-industrial or apocalyptic folk, is a form of experimental music blending elements of folk and industrial music, which emerged in punk rock circles in the 1980s. Neofolk may either be solely acoustic or combine acoustic folk instrumentation with various other sounds.
Dark cabaret may be a simple description of the theme and mood of a cabaret performance, but more recently has come to define a particular musical genre which draws on the aesthetics of the decadent, risqué German Weimar-era cabarets, burlesque and vaudeville shows with the stylings of post-1970s goth and punk music.
Dark culture, also called dark alternative scene, includes goth and dark wave culture, electro subculture and parts of the neofolk and post-industrial subcultures. In this context the "culture" is not to be understood as closed subculture, but as social environment, a milieu, which comprises people with similar interests and preferences.
Neue Deutsche Härte is a subgenre of rock music that developed in Germany during the mid-1990s. Alluding to the style of Neue Deutsche Welle, the term was coined by the music press after the 1995 release of Rammstein's album Herzeleid.
Aurelio Voltaire Hernández, professionally known as Aurelio Voltaire or by the mononym Voltaire, is a Cuban-born American singer, songwriter, and musician. His professional name is his given middle name, which was the pen name of the famous French Enlightenment writer François-Marie Arouet.
Kay Weniger is an Austrian writer of books on media issues. He published an eight-volume encyclopedia on international film people.
Futurepop is an electronic music genre, an outgrowth of EBM, that evolved in the late 1990s with groups like VNV Nation, Covenant, and Apoptygma Berzerk. It is characterized by the heavy use of sampling and an absence of vocal modification that is popular in many other forms of electronic music, such as Aggrotech.
Subsequent Pleasures is the first mini-album by Dutch dark wave band Clan of Xymox, self-released in 1983 under the band's original name Xymox.
Anka Wolbert is a Dutch musician, singer, songwriter and web developer, best known for her work with Clan of Xymox.
Gerlinde Doberschütz is a German rower. Her brother-in-law Jens Doberschütz was also a successful rower. Doberschütz was trained by Herta Weissig.
Cornelia Klier is a German rower. She married in 1980 prior to attending the Olympic Games and used her married name in Moscow.
Sonic Seducer is a German music magazine that covers gothic rock, new wave, EBM and other kinds of electronic music and culture. The magazine is noted for organizing the annual M'era Luna Festival. Since its inception in 1994, the Sonic Seducer has become one of the major publications of the dark culture in Germany.
Neue Deutsche Todeskunst is a musical genre that developed in Germany in the late 1980s. It is credited with establishing the German language in the dark wave movement, although there were already such German bands as Xmal Deutschland, Geisterfahrer and Malaria!.
Sanguis et Cinis was an Austrian gothic rock band.
Orkus is a monthly German music and culture magazine published by the Zoomia Media Group. Despite its subtitle and its web tagline, it includes all popular music genres including metal, medieval rock, Neue Deutsche Härte, alternative rock, electro and futurepop. The gothic rock, dark wave and industrial music genres have had only a minor presence since the late 1990s.
Female vocals, both wispy and operatic, have become fashionable, particularly in the Ethereal subgenre.