World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article




For the 1956 documentary film, see The Dark Wave.
Dark wave
Stylistic origins New wave, goth rock, post-punk, synthpop
Cultural origins late 1970s to early 1980s Australia, and Europe (most notably United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy).
Typical instruments Guitar, bass, synthesizer, drums, drum machine, piano, violin
Coldwave, ethereal wave, neoclassical
(complete list)
Regional scenes
Other topics
Notable releases

Dark wave or darkwave is a music genre that began in the late 1970s, coinciding with the popularity of new wave and post-punk. Building on those basic principles,[1] dark wave added dark, introspective lyrics and an undertone of sorrow for some bands. In the 1980s, a subculture developed alongside dark wave music, whose members were called "wavers"[2][3] or "dark wavers".[4][5]



The term was coined in Europe in the 1980s to describe a dark and melancholy variant of new wave and post-punk music, such as gothic rock and dark synthpop, and was first applied to musicians such as Bauhaus,[6] Joy Division,[7][8][9] The Sisters Of Mercy, Cocteau Twins, The Cure,[8][10] Siouxsie and the Banshees,[8] and The Chameleons.[8]

The movement spread internationally, spawning such developments as French coldwave. Coldwave described groups such as KaS Product,[11] Martin Dupont, Asylum Party, Norma Loy, Pavillon 7B, Résistance, Clair Obscur, Opera Multi Steel, The Breath of Life, and Trisomie 21. Subsequently, different dark wave genres merged and influenced each other, e.g. electronic new wave music (also called "electro wave" in Germany) with gothic rock, or used elements of ambient and post-industrial music. Attrition,[12] In The Nursery and Pink Industry (UK), Clan of Xymox (Netherlands), Mittageisen (Switzerland),[13] Die Form (France), and Psyche (Canada) played this music in the 1980s. German dark wave groups of the 1980s were associated with the Neue Deutsche Welle, and included Asmodi Bizarr, II. Invasion, Unlimited Systems, Mask For, Moloko †, Maerchenbraut[14] and Xmal Deutschland.


After the new wave and post-punk movements faded in the mid-1980s, dark wave was renewed as an underground movement by German bands such as Deine Lakaien,[14][15] Love Is Colder Than Death, early Love Like Blood,[16] and Diary of Dreams,[17] as well as Project Pitchfork along with its offshoot Aurora Sutra,[14] and Wolfsheim.[18] The Italians The Frozen Autumn, Ataraxia, and Nadezhda,[19] the South African band The Awakening and the French Corpus Delicti, also practiced the style. All of these bands followed a path based on the new wave and post-punk movements of the 1980s. At the same time, a number of German artists, including Das Ich,[14][17] Relatives Menschsein and Lacrimosa, developed a more theatrical style, interspersed with German poetic and metaphorical lyrics, called Neue Deutsche Todeskunst (New German Death Art). Other bands, such as Silke Bischoff, In My Rosary and Engelsstaub mingled dark synthpop or goth rock with elements of the neofolk or neoclassical genres.[17]

After 1993, in the United States, the term dark wave (as the one-word variant 'darkwave') became associated with the Projekt Records label, because it was the name of their printed catalog, and was used to market German artists like Project Pitchfork in the U.S. Projekt features bands such as Lycia, Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Love Spirals Downwards, most of these characterized by ethereal female vocals.[20] This style took cues from 1980s bands, like Cocteau Twins. This music is often referred to as ethereal dark wave.[21] The label has also had a long association with Attrition, who appeared on the label's earliest compilations. Another American label in this vein was Tess Records, which featured This Ascension and Faith and the Muse.[22] Clan of Xymox, who had returned to their 1980s sound, following almost a decade as the more synthpop Xymox, also signed to Tess in 1997.

Joshua Gunn, a professor of communication studies at Louisiana University, described American dark wave as Template:Cquote

The 2000s, 2010s and 'wave'-divergence

A number of other U.S. bands mixed elements of dark wave and ethereal wave with later developments in electronic music. Love Spirals Downwards, Collide, Deleyaman and Switchblade Symphony incorporated trip-hop. In the 2000s, many artists in the genre displayed wave-atypical influences. Abney Park (which began as a darkwave/goth rock band), synthesised worldbeat elements and gravitated to a more exotic/anachronistic sound, underpinning their evolving steampunk trajectory. Bella Morte (whose initial darkwave output was more akin to electropop), incorporated deathrock/heavy metal elements. Meanwhile, The Crüxshadows combined contemporary EDM elements in their relatively synthrock-oriented music.

Throughout the mid/late-2000s, especially in the U.S., darkwave was largely associated with The Crüxshadows and their then-Dancing Ferret labelmates (1998–2009), including: ThouShaltNot, Ego Likeness and The Last Dance – all of whom similarly displayed wave-disparities. Also, somewhat ambiguously, a 'darkwave' designation was (and remains), occasionally used to describe darkly-themed synthrock artists that, while not necessarily related in musical style or stylistic origins to established darkwave acts, employ a gothesque commercial image and/or lyrics: The Birthday Massacre, for example, is a band that is a well-known appropriator of the term.

Thereafter, in the late 2000s and early 2010s a number of darkwave, darksynth and dark electronic bands and artists from outside of the goth music scene (with which darkwave as a genre is typically identified) have emerged, including Cold Cave, Light Asylum, Night Sins, Gatekeeper, Zola Jesus and Youth Code. However, these bands and artists are more commonly associated with the hipster subculture and with indie music, in spite of their dark musical style and lyrical content. There is currently a debate concerning whether these artists are part of the darkwave genre, as their sound includes distinct new wave influences, but differs from traditional conceptions of darkwave. This debate is, in large part, because these artists do not typically actively associate themselves with the pre-existing darkwave scene, as well as because these artists tend to garner substantially more attention from the mainstream music press than most previous darkwave acts. In general, these artists' sound is relatively close to 1980s-era synthpop as well as early 2010s-era minimal wave, or, in the case of Zola Jesus, to shoegaze. These artists have sometimes been termed darkwave revival acts, though this is controversial, especially among long-time darkwave fans: darkwave did not at any point cease to exist as a genre, which the idea of a revival would imply, and several well-established darkwave acts have continued to perform and record music well into the early 2010s. In addition to these debates over contemporary darkwave music, there is also an existing debate over whether witch house, which displays many elements of ethereal wave, can be considered related to darkwave in style or intent.


Mercer, Mick. Hex Files: The Goth Bible. New York: The Overlook Press, 1997.

See also


External links

  • Discogs
  • Last.FM
  • s Guide to Goth." article on gothic rock.
  • Greek Dark Wave Online Magazine
  • Cold Wave Years

Template:Electronic rock

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.