Here’s a little insight into the reality of being a music critic in 2018: no one actually sends you their music anymore. When I started doing this job back in the waning days of the previous century, I soon ended up with more CDs than I ever wanted. In the past year or so, I think I received two.
So, when I get asked to write these Album of the Week reviews, I fire up the Internet machine and search Bandcamp for new Vancouver releases. This proactive approach often lets me discover music I would never have found otherwise.
And sometimes that music doesn’t seem to want to be found. Case in point: Dead Popstar, an act that doesn’t appear to have any online presence apart from its Bandcamp page. (Take my word for it, I looked, and you really don’t want to know what sort of depressing things you find when you search for “dead popstar”.) The project’s willful obscurity means I can’t tell you anything about it other than the fact that it puts out one release per year, every December, and that its bio reads simply “23, Goth.”
“Goth” is a pretty broad and nonspecific descriptor; what Dead Popstar makes is better defined as industrial music. Imagine Skinny Puppy without the shifting rhythms and caustic noise, or Nine Inch Nails with most of Trent Reznor’s commercial instincts excised.
What’s left is a collection of abrasive soundscapes characterized by droning noise and looped beats, punctuated at odd intervals by brooding lyrics about fear and sickness and drugs. Put these tracks on your “depressing” playlist alongside deep cuts from Scorn’s Gyral and the Cure’s Pornography. If you don’t have a “depressing” playlist, you probably wouldn’t be interested in an album called Suicide Forest anyway.