The art of style
The term “darkwave” describes not so much a genre, but a mood, a philosophy, and a fashion sense. It encompasses everything from Soft Cell’s sleazy atmospherics to the pseudoclassical stylings of In the Nursery. The term is used to describe everything from death rock outfits like Kommunity FK and Christian Death to unashamedly goth groups like Faith & The Muse.
As such, the instrumentation used by darkwave bands is varied. Drum machines prevail, but live drummers are abundant, too. Guitars are sometimes used in an experimental texture, and melodies are often provided by the bass guitar.
Many bands draw upon synths and some acts rely wholly on electronic instrumentation. Synth styles range from simple string pads and sampled choirs to thick, analogue textures. Early groups relied on cheap monosynths (Korg’s MS-20 was a favourite) or cut-price polyphonic keyboards.
Historically, dramatic vocal styles defined a group’s style, from Daniel Ash’s hushed whisper to the sepulchral croons of Sisters of Mercy frontman Andrew Eldritch and Siglo XX’s Erik Dries.