Various Artists

Darkwave: Music of the Shadows, Vol. 2

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In the 1990s, one term that caught on in Europe was "darkwave," which has been used to describe a variety of dark, gloomy alternative music ranging from goth rock and industrial noise to dark ambient. While darkwave is a term that some find convenient, it's important to know the differences between these various styles -- industrial noise, for example, can be blistering and extremely abrasive, whereas goth rock tends to be aggressive yet highly melodic. Bauhaus, the godfathers of goth, thrived on melody, but some of the most effective industrial artists can be amelodic and lack a real song structure. Because darkwave is a somewhat nebulous term, it makes sense that Darkwave: Music of the Shadows, Vol. 2 is as diverse as it is. This generally excellent compilation, which spans 1982-1999, doesn't contain any real industrial noise -- its focus is primarily goth rock, with some dark ambient thrown in. While not everything on Darkwave was aimed at goth purists, K-Tel effectively maintains a dark, gloomy, shadowy ambience with alternative music that ranges from Miranda Sex Garden's "Gush Forth My Tears" and Spahn Ranch's "An Exit" to Lustmord's "Black Star," the Legendary Pink Dots' "Lucifer Landed," and Love Spirals Downward's "Forgo." The oldest song on the CD is the Cocteau Twins' "Alas Dies Laughing" from 1982; most of the material, however, comes from the 1990s. Those who consider themselves goth-rock purists would be better off with Vol. 1 of K-Tel's Music of the Shadows series -- however, this is a nicely assembled collection that is easily recommended to those who appreciate a variety of moody alternative music.

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