Comprised of John Gill (vocals, bass, guitar and synth), Greg Tebbano (lead guitar, lead synth and backing vocals), David Octal (bass), and Ben Patten (drums), the Saratoga Springs, NY-based post punk quartet The Black Ships derive their name from the Western vessels that sailed to Japan during the 16th to 19th centuries. And with the forthcoming release of their latest effort, Dead Empires, slated for a December 4 release, the Upstate New York-based quartet hope to prove that Saratoga Springs is the home of a burgeoning wave music scene — in particular, a burgeoning shoegaze/dark wave/chill wave scene — as the town is best known as the home of blogosphere darlings Phantogram.
Dead Empires‘ latest single album title track “Dead Empires” sounds as though it owes a major sonic debt to Joy Division, The Cure and 4AD Records — while also channeling contemporaries like The Harrow, Dead Leaf Echo and others, as the song is comprised of atmospheric synths, slashing, angular bass and shimmering guitar chords and four-on-the-floor drumming paired ethereal vocals. If you’re a child of the 80s as I am, the Saratoga Springs-based quartet’s sound will be familiar — it’s a darkly seductive and danceable sound. But interestingly enough, what will set the band apart from their contemporaries is the fact that the band’s frontman John Gill is a self-proclaimed avid history buff, and Dead Empires lyrics concern themselves with how history’s course and flow affects and influences everything. And as Gill explains in press notes “Looking back on historical events of the past adds a romantic tinge to things and a certain yearning for past times and traditions.” In some way, it gives the material a swooning Romanticism that belies its brooding nature.