Dark Matter Will Flow is an multiproducer experimental project featuring four members from Finland, Canada, Wales, and the United States. DMWF is Jeff Vicario, Joe Wilkie, Jeremiah Boothe and Craig Williams. I was first introduced to them by accident in June 2020 after stumbling upon their debut album “Into the Netherworld.” I was originally planning (for quite a while) to do a review of that album due to how transgressive and different it was, but I had a chance meeting with member Joe Wilkie via his Limbocast show. Before going onto his show I had ZERO idea that he had been a part of a project that I’ve listened to regularly since it hit the streets. He let me know that DMWF got together another album, this time a self-titled, and released it on September 6th, 2020.

Dark Matter Will Flow’s self-titled album artwork was created by Rachel aka “pickledfey” on Twitter. Rachel also did the artwork for “Into the Netherworld,” which featured a very similar style focusing on hands as the primary focus. This image channels “Pan’s Labyrinth’s” Pale Man complete with eyeballs on the palms of some very unnatural looking hands. There’s an oddly erotic vibe coming off of this image, I adore the red and black gradient style color scheme as well as the chalkboard tears below the eyes.

What I immediately felt when I heard DMWF’s self-titled album is how different it was from their first album. Gone was a lot of the harshness and pseudo-metal distorted sounds sprinkled throughout. The self-titled album is much more focused, much more aware of what it is, what it’s doing, and where it wants to go—and it does so unapologetically. Each member of DMWF has a well defined role here, and ultimately I think that each person gets to contribute in a way that ultimately shows off who they are as individuals.

In terms of what this album sounds like, please consider any of Garm’s most notable works with Arcturus and Ulver. There’s a circus-like weirdness with what Jeff and Co. are doing here that reminds me of both bands. DMWF is ambient at times, occasionally beat driven, and kind of pitchy, but in a good way. I’m going to be honest, I usually don’t like the Billy Corgan type of vibe from any vocalist but Billy, but the way the vocals are done here are pretty damn good. My first spin of the album found me falling in and out of love with the initial stage setup by album opener “Weakness.” But those feelings melted away when “Darkness” kicked in, which I must say is one of the coolest tracks, if not the coolest on this album. After getting used to what DMWF was laying down, I began to get what they were doing and liked it all the better for it. The one surprise on this album that was also executed well was the inclusion of Joe Wilkie spitting some rap vibes. His voice is tastefully deep with a slight amount of vocal fry. This isn’t at all something I’ve personally heard before when it comes to the way I’ve expected rap lyrics to be performed. The kicker is that the way Joe delivers his lines doesn’t distract me at all from the music. In fact I view his voice as just another musical instrument being used effectively to further separate what DMWF is doing from everything else I’ve reviewed this year.

“Emptiness” is another wonderful track from this album, featuring some very bassy 90s tones, some nice phased guitars, and vocals (I think) by Jeff and Joe. I don’t often say this but I also liked what Sapphira Vee did with the remix version included at the end of the album. It’s more or less the same structure as the original cut, but it does several things differently that extends the listenability of both versions.

“Listen to No One” prominently features rapping for the verses of the song, while more traditional vocals are used for the pre-chorus and chorus. Again, there’s a really cool guitar solo that kicks in somewhere north of three minutes, as a guitarist myself, I think it would be kind of fun to play. Ultimately, this song shows off the playfulness of DMWF.

The weirdest track of the bunch would have to go to “Beat Zero.” I am drawn to the lyrics of this one:

“Left for dead I gaze up to a violet sky/My corporeal body/Breathes its final sigh/Some of us are a cut above/While the rest of us merely gather up dust.”

The way that Jeff’s vocals sound on this song make the line “cut above” sound like “carnival.” I’m not sure if that was intentional, but it sure as hell sounds like it. Regardless, I think a lot of people can relate to this line as it was written. The coolest little detail of the whole album, an actual sigh, comes in after the line “breathes its final sigh,” at roughly 3:09 into the song. Fuck, I love it so much.

Overall, Dark Matter Will Flow’s self-titled album is a weird little piece of art. And when I say art I mean it in the best way possible. These guys are just doing their own fucking thing with total disregard for what the cool kids happen to be doing. If you’re brave enough to let your guard down for a minute to check this one out, I think that there’s a whole lot to love. It totally kicks the vibe they were searching for on “Into the Netherworld” into overdrive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED AWESOMENESS HERE.

Highlights: ALL. Start with “Darkness.”

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Ulver, Arcturus, Run the Jewels, and people willing to give art a fucking chance—there aren’t a lot of these types of people out there.

Album Color Profile: #880E4F

You can find all things Dark Matter Will Flow at https://darkmatterwillflow.bandcamp.com/

Riki is a synthpop act from Los Angeles featuring ex-Crimson Scarlet member Niff Nawor. She released a short EP back in 2017 entitled “Hot City” which served as a precursor sound-wise for her self-titled debut which was released in February 2020.

The cover artwork is simple enough, featuring a very androgynous looking photo of Nawor mackin’ it with the camera. In each corner of the cover are the letters that spell out “Riki.” I wouldn’t call it particularly original, but it definitely works. In the 70s and 80s this type of album cover was everywhere, especially when an artist went off on their own—like Phil Collins with Genesis or Sting with The Police.

Riki’s self-titled album channels a few different threads of music that reached the apex of their popularity back between 1978-1989. The first thread of her music has a cornerstone in the minimalistic Neu Deutsch Welle coldwave movement of West Germany that is a cross of acts like Visage, The Human League, and Nena. Riki’s “Come Inside” evokes a lot of this energy with it’s weird minimalistic leads and cold vocal style. The second thread of her music lies in Danceteria movement from New York City, Danceteria featured like Sonic Youth, Depeche Mode, and the Swans. The last and final thread lies in Nawor’s affinity for Italia disco aesthetics. This shines through especially Riki’s track “Napoleon” which is reminiscent of Sabrina’s “Boys” (1987) mixed with and Boney M’s “Rasputin” (1978).

It always astounds me to come across musicians like Nawor. It’s clear that there was a lot of attention to detail in production quality of Riki. It’s not only authentic sounding, but it also feels emotionally accurate for the time. Riki’s debut stands as a shining example of how music written in the 21st century can successfully emulate a completely different era independent of geographical location and personal experiences. If you’re are looking for a nostalgia trip that’ll make you feel like you’re in a European discotheque in 1984, you absolutely need to check out Riki.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Neu Deutsch Welle, coldwave, postpunk, Italian disco, and 80s synthpop.

Stand-out tracks: “Böse Lügen (Body Mix)” (aka the BEST track, so catchy), “Come Inside,” “Strohmann,” and “Napoleon.”

Album Color Profile: #880E4F