In the quaint streets of Belgium, Bram Droulers, a fervent film enthusiast (and filmmaker), cultivated an appreciation for the brooding tones of darkwave and post-punk. His early inclinations leaned towards the stylings of 80s Berlin-era artists such as David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, and Joy Division. This fervour was only intensified by encounters with the enigmatic rhythms of 2010s revival bands like Lebanon Hanover, Molly Nilsson, and Selofan.
A half-decade stint in London’s goth milieu refined his musical palette, transitioning seamlessly from This Mortal Coil to the ethereal Cocteau Twins. This evolution has informed the inspirations behind his impending gothic darkwave release, “Problème De Normalité,” with nods to the likes of Nico, Xmal Deutschland, and Malaria!
Skirting the edges of raw, unadulterated punk, and interspersed with sparse industrial nuances and elements reminiscent of his Balkan heritage, Droulers’ music aims to craft a cinematic experience for the impassioned souls who revel in dance. “Problème De Normalité” epitomizes the essence of classical minimalist synth. Its compositions are understated, poised, and imbued with a frigid elegance reminiscent of early 4AD and Grauzone. The album, sung almost entirely in French, exudes a haunting ethereality, enveloping listeners in an atmospheric embrace. Its spooky, sparse arrangements and dreamy melodies conveys profound introspection, evoking sentiments of melancholy, isolation, and transcendental yearning.
The album commences with the evocative Des Bas Et Des Hauts (Lows and Highs), a chilling, resonant lamentation adorned with ethereal bell tones. Its poignant chorus lingers, reminiscent of a fading recollection. He’s Mean He’s Coming infuses a more danceable energy, blending rhythmic drum sequences, a haunting vocal with ghostly melodies, signaling an impending, inevitable approach. ILY perpetuates the eerie ambiance with its stripped-down synth, piercing guitar and floating vocals, evoking echoes of Lebanon Hanover’s distinctive sound.
With Few Last Words, listeners are immediately greeted by a heartfelt a cappella that echoes with emotion, interrupted brilliantly by lasers. Soon after, a compelling bassline introduces a contemplative Bauhaus-inspired poetic interlude. This style resonates again in Our Soirees Themes, where Bram’s subdued voice melds with profound synth pads and the resonance of metal. Lost In The Woods commences with a vivacious piano, followed by choral flourishes that segue into a captivating vocal piece, hinting at the allure of a mystical forest.
Petra revisits the time-honoured gothic tradition with looming synthesizers and foreboding guitar layers. Vegetation commences with subdued synth beats, soon giving way to strings reminiscent of Middle Eastern melodies, culminating in a piece evocative of Lebanon Hanover’s distinctive coldwave style. Folie resonates with an ethereal, static-laden quality, conjuring the image of an EVP recording capturing otherworldly voices within the cavernous halls of a haunted mansion. As the album draws to a close, listeners are treated to an organ-infused 80s style dance track, reminiscent of the early days of Depeche Mode, a zestful composition aptly titled Television.
Listen to the album below:
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