BANDCAMP NAVIGATOR Bandcamp Navigator, February 2024 By Robert Newsome · Illustration by Jim Stoten · March 12, 2024

It’s inevitable, when you travel through the tags the way we do here, that you’re going to visit places multiple times. Usually, though, we revisit a broad category. This time around, we’re starting our travels in a more specific familiar place, on the border between dungeon synth and dance music

Overdose at a Dungeon Rave

Merch for this release:

The artist behind Труп Колдуна, a name used interchangeably by the artist with its English translation, ”Warlock Corpse,” is incredibly prolific, unleashing or contributing to an average of three releases a year since since 2021. These releases cover a range of styles, too. There’s the expected dungeon synth sound, which lends itself to black metal, and Warlock Corpse has given us some of that as well, but there’s also some synthpop in there. Now, through the Culturist alter-ego, there’s booming, early ’90s bass-heavy dance music. This is the real stuff: dirty, stripped down, and in constant motion. The best dungeon synth artists have always had a unique ability to transport their listeners to a distant time and place. Culturist has the same ability, but instead of a fantasy world of enchanted caverns, this is a portal straight to an early ’90s Rotterdam rave.

United States black metal, or, more succinctly, #usbm, has exploded since its origins in the ’80s and ’90s. We’ll use that tag to descend to the depths of the Midwest to highlight a practitioner of the genre in Madison, Wisconsin.

Flesh Suit
The Wicked Witch

Black metal has exploded into a variety of sounds in the past few decades, but when I think of the genre, I think of cold, brittle production, heavy on the high-end. Madison, Wisconsin’s Flesh Suit is a reminder that black metal can also sound full and bombastic. Whether it’s the booming tympani-style percussion that drives the slow march of “My Flock Go Astray” or the prominent bass work (by which I’m referring to both the bass guitar and that of the drum kit) during the faster numbers (and this record does get really fast), there’s a sonic depth on display here that’s encompassing, absorbing the listener into the madness.

The #lofi production style of many black metal releases is one of the things that gives the genre its charm. A similar production aesthetic can be found at our next stop, a goth-influenced demo.

Nocturnal Prose

Described as a collection of demos, this release from San Antonio’s Nocturnal Prose has an immediate, direct feel and is just rough enough around the edges to hook any fans of the “goth” end of the post-punk spectrum, reminiscent of early ’80s UK punks who were experimenting with less abrasive sounds (think Lack of Knowledge or The Mob) while still fitting in nicely with similar contemporary acts. The standout here is the upbeat “Like Water Like Sun,” which uses a shimmering guitar lead weaving around a bright synth melody. Also of special note is the vocal delivery on this collection. The uncredited vocalist has an expressive voice, trembling with emotion at times and capable of dropping into a deeper register that adds a layer of resonance to these tracks.

Here we are again in the vast territory of the #post-punk tag. We’re focusing now on an artist using post-punk sounds mixed with electronics and filtered through old-school video games.

Alfredo el Grande
Oscuros Pensamientos

Colombian electronic musician Alfredo el Grande has somehow stumbled onto the perfect recipe for combining chiptune/8-bit style video game music, bass-heavy techno, and post-punk darkwave. The result is something he calls “Arcade Punk,” a descriptor that serves as the title for another one of his releases. We’re focusing here on Alfredo’s (slightly) earlier work, though, and it’s incredible. Goth-style, near-monotone vocals float in a sea of bubbling low-end with the occasional laser-beam synth stabs while drum machines keep up a dance-floor filling beat. There are occasional touches of the more industrial-influenced end of the techno spectrum at work here (check out those buzzing synths that kick off the driving “Amnesia Temporal”) which give depth and texture to the overall sound. Alfredo’s not the first to mix together these genres, but the way he does it is refreshing, often unexpected, and completely exciting.

The #darkwave influence in Alfredo el Grande’s work is obvious, and this journey is taking shape as an electronic one, so let’s not fight it. Let’s continue down the path of finding new mechanical sounds to move us forward.

Selubung Abadi

The opening moments of the latest from Indonesian electronic group Temarram feature synth voices that ring out like trumpets, creating an air of anticipation and grandiosity that is borne out over the rest of these four tracks. This release features a slightly different production style than on previous releases, making everything on Selubung Abadi sound somehow bigger and more opulent. The hallmarks of gloomy, post-punk-influenced dance are all here, but now the thudding heartbeat of the drum machine is deeper; the low, sinister growl of the bass more menacing; and the brittle, crystalline chimes that provide sparse melodies are sharper and more piercing. These components are also greatly enhanced by Sherina Redjo’s plaintive yet expressive vocals, which binds them all together and gives the listener a mesmerizing focal point.

From #darkwave to #minimalwave now…there are so many waves! The one we’re catching takes us from Temarram’s home of Indonesia all the way to Poland.

Brenda i Funky
Cybernetyczne Igraszki

Merch for this release:

While it’s plain to see how the work of electronic pioneers Kraftwerk influenced Polish duo Brenda i Funky, there’s something a little different going on here. The hissing drum machines and heavily computerized vocals are here, but they somehow seem warm and full of life. Cybernetyczne Igraszki is suffused with joyous moments that are anything but cold and robotic. The bouncing rhythm and flowing synth melody of “S​Ł​ONECZNE WOJNY” is basically an infusion of happiness. It’s almost like a nod to the fact that behind these mechanical noises, there are humans having a really good time.

The city of #Szczecin, in northwest Poland, has existed since at least the 8th century, so there’s definitely been plenty of time for the city to develop several vibrant music scenes. We’re going to hang around here for a while and find another Szczecin artist to highlight.


Merch for this release:

Alarm’s music is an explosive, mostly instrumental mixture of punk and prog that plays with ideas of song structure and composition in delightful ways. When you think the melody is going to jump up a key, it goes down. When you think a song’s building up to a fast part, it suddenly downshifts into half-time. T​Ł​UKĄ is constantly pulling the proverbial rug out from under the listener. This sort of defiance of convention could very easily turn annoying, even grating, but due to the skill of the musicians involved, it never even gets close. Alarm switches easily from percussive, scratchy Nomeansno-style guitar to sweeping, shoegaze-style passages to precise, intricate guitar lines reminiscent of ’70s European prog rock.

We’re going to grab onto the #psychedelic tag now and use it to drift into a recent reissue of an amazing Yoruba Afrobeat reissue.

Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

Shina Peters’s name is nearly synonymous with juju, a subgenre of Afrobeat originating from the Yoruba culture of (and around) Nigeria. This reissue of his fifth album, originally released in 1985, showcases Peters’s desire to expand the juju genre after a lengthy stint as member of several popular ensembles. Peters, along with being an accomplished songwriter and composer, is also an incredible guitarist. His skill with that instruments is documented on Sewele, but the record is equally if not more fascinating in parts where the guitar is completely absent, yielding the spotlight to a nearly otherworldly conversation between synths, vocal chants, and the distinctive sound of the talking drum. Across these four lengthy tracks, Peters and his band take ample room to stretch out and give their musical ideas plenty of room to play. The result is a record full of life and energy, one that is bursting with intricate and unusual musical structures, a bright exuberant document of an important time in West African pop music history.

It’s a little difficult to find the #country influence in Sir Shina Peters’s record. But that’s okay, because country music is also difficult to find (but still tagged) in our final stop. If a road’s there, why not take it?


A refreshing, lighthearted, and extremely catchy blend of funk, R&B, and synthpop with dashes of dozens of other descriptors, the debut album from Roseville, California’s mononymous Thomas is a breath of fresh air. The lyrics are silly, slightly dirty odes to this silly little thing called love (as explained in the track “This Silly Little Thing”) delivered in a voice that’s the midpoint of a continuum with Beck doing his Prince impression on one end and Ultra Vivid Scene’s Kurt Ralske on the other. Musically, the song structures are pretty straightforward, but they’re ornamented with enough off-kilter embellishments to keep the record intensely interesting: drum machines click away; warbly walls of guitar float in and out; synth beds rise and fall like the tide. It’s obvious that Thomas loves R&B, but it is equally apparent that he is determined to push the boundaries of the genre (and all genres, really), to create something new, exciting, and slightly strange.

As noted, a decidedly electronic trip around the world this time (with a couple of exceptions). It wasn’t planned, but when that sort of thing begins to take shape, sometimes it’s fun to just hang on and go along for the ride. We’ll get together again soon for another unplanned and possibly oddly-formed journey through the tags soon!

Read more in Rock →

Top Stories

Latest see all stories

On Bandcamp Radio see all

Listen to the latest episode of Bandcamp Radio. Listen now →