February 23, 2022

For fans of True Moon, Frozen Autumn, Henric de la Cour, Hapax, She Past Away

Interesting! Child of Night is an experimental electronic act from Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn, formed in 2017, producing music that is darkwave, post-punk, and curiously, hypnotically, addictive! Their new album The Walls at Dawn came out last September in the US, more recently here in the UK. For me, there’s more than a passing resemblance here to late-period Siouxsie, 80’s dance electronica such as Thompson Twins and the Cocteau Twins, and then more closely Euro electronica stalwarts such as Frozen Autumn and True Moon (fans of C.O.N. should really give True Moon a whirl!)

Line-up: The trio in cheerful mode: Jonathan Thompson, Tristan Wolfe and vocalist Niabi Aquena

Darkwave can be summed up as featuring a blend of melancholic vocals, atmospheric gothic-wave and 1980s-style electropop, and that perfectly captures Child of Night. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of electronica, but I do find myself drawn to bands like Frozen Autumn and True Moon, and now Child Of Night are a welcome addition to that company. They all share the same bubbly undercurrents, echoey productions, “dark spaces in the studio”, and spellbinding vocals woven by the singers. It’s good stuff!

The songs on this album follow a connected general theme of transformation and illumination set against the backdrop of a collapsing empire. Sort of the soundtrack to what could be a fascinating apocalyptic film!

 The PR blurb states that “The resulting sonic exploration is appropriate for consumption by those facing the dystopian reality of an unfamiliar world while experiencing the powerful urge to dance in the darkness” – which sounds like complete Tosh!, but actually nails the general vibe quite nicely! Equal parts analogue synths, industrial dance beats, and swirling guitar-driven post-punk, Child of Night look to wear their influences firmly on their sleeves whilst carving their own unique sonic path.

We also do smiles!!

 Recorded in Ohio, USA, the album has nine tracks, kicking off with Aurora, which sort of murkily crawls into your head, growling undercurrents of menace, but seems slightly at odds with the rest of the album? No matter, it’s an intriguing start.

Unafraid is the first single, and singer Niabi has this to say about it: «The lyrics and vocal melody for Unafraid fell out of me, written all in one day. I will never betray the meaning of the song, but I will say this: The first line of the second verse was inspired by the admittance of a guilty pleasure, and I ran with the idea of safety for people that I care about, safety for myself. At the end of the song, the question is asked – “is it worth it to fall” – and only you can answer that question. When you see us perform Unafraid live, you’ll undoubtedly know my [our] answer…» The track itself is a hypnotic spell woven around a nice rhythm, and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Wounded Child is (I think?) the follow-up single, with the video to view below. It really does illustrate the whole Darkwave thing as performed by Child Of Night – and I love that forbidding sense of menace, lurking in the shadows, all achieved through an understated kind of arrangement – you don’t get your head blasted off here, but you’re still creepily on edge whilst enjoying the tune!

Disappear introduces more of a guitar-led arrangement, still the same vibe, slightly slower rhythm but strong percussion lines, the vocals from all three mixed further back to create a sense of distance. Outbreak is then quite different, this really is film soundtrack territory, a synth-driven soundscape that flows on past without ever really “arriving” – not sure what the Outbreak is of? At 6.15 minutes, Son is the longest, and perhaps most accomplished track on the album. Most of the time, we reviewers are now working digitally, without the aid of lyrics, and I wish I could view the lyrics of this track in particular. The vocals build gradually and powerfully on top of a simple, often quite sparse synth-led arrangement. The whole does indeed work, it’s mesmeric!

Indigence is a rhythm-led number, not massively accessible to start with but it’s a grower, very 80’s in style. Cult Of Satisfaction continues that classic 80’s/90’s feel, more than a hint of Eurythmics? And the album’s closer, True Love Needs Discipline is again a cinematic number, its immersive without being engaging. I guess there’s a thin line with electronica…

Overall though, an interesting songset, with a nicely elegaic sense of melancholy about it!