Over the last few years, San Francisco-based label Dark Entries has proven to be one of the sharpest new labels in the country. Although the focus is mostly dark synth music, it’s all rare, hard to find and previously unreleased work that deserves to be highlighted and reintroduced into the world.
Label head Josh Cheon’s longtime Goth passion inspired him to name his label after a Bauhaus single and he’s since become a conduit for phenomenal reissues of work by Patrick Cowley, Severed Heads, Eleven Pond, Dark Day and Jeff & Jane Hudson.
The most recent string of releases has been a full on knockout combination of out of print stunners from Lena Platonos, Thomas Leer and Joe Crow.
Each of those deserves individual investigation, but the Joe Crow is not only a particularly great one, but it serves as a perfect example of what Dark Entries does so well.
Part of one of those early-80s post-punk bands that skirted right on the outskirts of immortality, Joe Crow was in a beloved band that later turned into another band that opened for all these other bands, but that band only became popular after it disbanded.
Then, he recorded some tracks with some friends, but mostly all himself in a studio.
Two of those tracks became a collectible sought after – but not exactly popular – 7″ single.
Eight years later, Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore covered the A-side on his curious solo EP and re-affirmed it as a timelessly brilliant fetish object.
“Compulsion” is beautiful and super wonky in the best way.
Lyrically it’s deft and emotionally crushing, but musically it’s so insanely lo-fi it’s like a readymade dark synth lost classic.
Recorded and programmed entirely by Crow on all borrowed equipment, he plays everything: guitar, bass, Boss Dr. Rhythm, Bee Gees Rhythm Machine, Wasp synthesizer, bongos stuffed with towels and an old tin tray for a snare drum.
That reality gives it a raw, off kilter sound that feel like the intimate demo recordings of kid in his garage and absolutely contradicts the expected gloss of synthetic pop.
Mind you, in 1981, that didn’t even really exist as a “thing” yet either…so there’s that.
Dark Entries has thankfully re-released “Compulsion” with it’s original B-side and 3 previously unreleased tracks, one of which, “We Said We Wouldn’t Look Back” is one of the most perfect, heartbreaking things I’ve heard all year.
You absolutely must look back.