Cruel Blue is a UK-based electronic music outfit comprised of Tom Middleton and Kai Sheldon. For the project, the pair of musicians draw inspiration from the thriving pool of darkwave and industrial acts worldwide, and a shared nostalgia of the goth/pop music they absorbed while growing up. Their latest release is a double-A side presenting two sides of a single coin: “Vantablack” and “Shame”.
“Vantablack’s fidgety, industrial bass creates a frenetic tension and release, sounding like a more ethereal Cabaret Voltaire meets the sweeping, echoing synth soundscape of White Lies. “Vantablack has lived in many forms over the last two years,” says the band, explaining that the song morphed into the keystone of the sound and intention of Cruel Blue.
“Shame”, born out of a late-night voice memo consisting of hushed vocals and faint chords, drags you through the dirt with a long march into the dawn light. The result is a cavernous synth introspection that sounds like Coil meets Rowland S Howard, with faint undertones of latter-day Leonard Cohen woven together with the slow-rising song structure of Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Ocean Rain”.
“Whilst both songs have completely different forms they both lyrically deal with themes of paranoia, anxiety, and truth,” says the band. While true that the songs sound almost as they’d been created by different bands entirely, it speaks to the duality of mankind. Both are tied together by the droll vocals, wryly delivering the lyrics with detached solemnity.
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*Photo by Carol Bonarde