Al Tompkins, the creative mastermind behind goth/industrial act Dark Matter Noise (DMN) is a grizzled, Seattle music scene veteran and quietly kept mainstay. As the story goes, Tompkins went to high school with Chris Cornell and college with Matt Cameron — before Cornell and Cameron met and formed Soundgarden. Tompkins’ first band Ebb and Flow received a great deal of airplay for a goth soundtrack tune that the renowned producer and audio engineer Jack Endino recorded as part of a test to get a job at Reciprocal Recording, where Nirvana eventually recorded Bleach. Tompkins next band, Strange Bulge recorded an album which had guest appearances by Ten Minute Warning and Mother Love Bone‘s Greg Gilmore and the aforementioned Jack Endino and Matt Cameron. Tompkins fourth band Yeast recorded split singles with Nirvana, Helios Creed and Coffin Break among others and opened for the likes of Mudhoney, Soundgarden, and The Fluid. Tompkins then pursued an interest in metal with a stint with Resonator, who opened for the likes of The Gits, Napalm Death, The Pleasure Elite and others.
Tompkins latest project Dark Matter Noise (DMN) was created out of his desire to fully experiment with an electronic sound — and to change up his songwriting approach, after spending years within the indie rock scene. The project’s second and forthcoming album Blackwing is slated for a March 18 release, and the the album has Tompkins producing the album, as well as performing most of the instrumentation on the effort, except for contributions from Electric Hellfire Club‘s Eric Peterson, Vladimir Potrosky contributed songwriting on “End of Line,” and Charlie Drown contributed vocals on “Open Wide” and “Hell’s Frozen.” Sonically speaking, the album’s first single and title track “Darkwing” sounds as though it draws from Ministry, Depeche Mode and early Nine Inch Nails as layers of buzzing guitars, industrial clang and clatter, propulsive and forceful drum programming and drumming and swirling electronics are paired with guttural yet crooned vocals. And although the song and the material on the album is reportedly inspired by a number of very dark things –the dissolution of a marriage, the lost of years of recordings and demos and so on — there’s a sense of resilience just underneath the murky surface.