The world of darkwave and Gothic industrial music is readily apparent as a haven for freaks – the misfits and outcasts of sister genres all gather in this decaying mansion to reveal to all their twisted vision.
From the over-aggressive fist-pounding of Combichrist to the soft-spoken and somewhat optimistic anachronism of the Crüxshadows, to the unrelenting sorrow and misery of the Clan of Xymox, darkwave is usually populated by those who like it cold, dead and, well, dark. However, even a genre of freaks will have its own freaks, its own outliers that defy even the freakish show that surrounds them. Diary of Dreams is such a project.
Diary of Dreams is a German darkwave / industrial project that was formed around late 80s/early 90s, largely by and around Adrian Hates, who used to play guitar for Garden of Delight. A classically-trained pianist (and, as apparent, guitarist) he embarked on his project by releasing the first album in 1994, titled “Cholymelan.” Almost immediately following this, three further albums (“End of Flowers”, “Bird Without Wings”, “Psychoma?”) were released in between 1996 and 1999, each year marking an album. The year 2000 marks a turning point for the project as the first in a series of “landmark” albums, “One of 18 Angels” was released. There was a shift in the project’s sound with this particular album (more on this below.) This album marked the beginning of what many consider to be the “classic Diary of Dreams era,” between 2002 and 2007, including the releases of, in order: “Freak Perfume” (2002); “Panik Manifesto” (EP – 2002); “Nigredo” (2004, a conceptual album); “MenschFeind” (EP – 2005); “Nekrolog 43” (2007.) Following this, Diary of Dreams released, to date, two more studio albums, “(if)” in 2009 and the latest, “Ego: X” in 2011. It must also be mentioned that there were, intermixed with this steady flow of material, compilations, often containing one or two exclusive tracks. These are: “Moments of Bloom” (1999); “Dream Collector” (2003); “A Collection Of…” (2010); “Dream Collector II” (2012) and the latest, an acoustic album in 2012 by the title of “The Anatomy of Silence.”
Where the makers of the music is concerned, by and large, it can be said that Adrian Hates “is” Diary of Dreams, as an overwhelming amount of the music along with the entirety of the lyrics is written, and the production of the albums (which are released through Hates’ own “Accession Records” label) are done by him. Of course, for tours, and lately, for music videos, Adrian has a stable cadre of musicians that assist him, such as Gaun:A, Torbin Wendt (of Diorama), Dejan and Flex. Throughout Diary of Dreams’ existence, these musicians (Gaun: A especially) helped Adrian Hates to some degree in the making of the albums (including artwork) and have supported him on stage.
Diary of Dreams is a unique creature where the music it creates is concerned. Under normal circumstances, industrial genres (mainly darkwave, synthpop and aggrotech where this article is concerned) focus on repetition: drum machines are rigged to keep steady, usually four-on-the-floor beats, synth lines are structured so that they loop, verses and choruses are usually separated by the presence or absence of a certain main synth line. Diary of Dreams is an exception. Despite, as per being an industrial project, building itself largely on synthesized instruments (and despite using electric guitars often, especially in the later albums) the arrangements are dynamic. The drumming, though programmed, closely resembles live drums in variations of beat, the use of cymbals and general syncopation. The synth lines, whether bass or sequencer, are multi-layered, often playing off of each other. Often, industrial music has a rather bare-bones approach: one (usually moog-like) bass line, one main synth line, one supportive synth line, drums and vocals. Diary of Dreams leans towards complexity, sometimes more than five simultaneous synth lines and sequences build up a layer of digital, yet somehow organic, sound. Adrian Hates’ training as a musician does reflect in the build-ups and payoffs of songs, as they often resemble ensemble compositions.
Adrian Hates’ vocals and vocal style are also crucial to the Diary of Dreams sound. In delivering lyrics, Adrian Hates uses two main approaches: his signature singing style that often does not sing but recite lyrics, and spoken-word passages. In addition to sometimes overlapping these two methods, he does his own back vocals; in fact, most vocal passages usually consist of two different takes of the same portion (one usually softer, the other more dominantly melancholic as per his signature) overlaid on the music simultaneously, simulating a choir of sorts. Coupled together with the music behind it, the vocals tie the bow on the moody, darkly atmospheric universe of Diary of Dreams. Diary of Dreams has a unique, and especially dark atmosphere built into every single song, rarely ever coming something even close to uplifting or positive.
Now This is Human
In looking at Diary of Dreams’ music, one can identify, especially from their “classic” period onwards, three trends. The first is the relatively fast-paced song, usually characterized by above-mid-tempo pacing, heavy emphasis on bass drum hits and aggressive synth lines, as well as the use of electric guitars prominently. “Giftraum”, “Remedy Child”, “Malice”, “Amok” are examples to this. The second is the slow, melancholic, moody songs that usually have low-tempo pacing, softer drums, often the inclusion of pianos. “Chrysalis”, “Tears of Joy”, “Bastard”, “Charma Sleeper” are examples to this. The third is the relentlessly dark, unyielding numbers that carry the feeling of an ongoing apocalypse. “Chemicals”, “Wintersouls”, “But the Wind Was Stronger” are such songs. Perhaps a fourth category would be dancier, more, by virtue of pace and air upbeat ones. “Kinodrom”, “Haus der Stille”, “Psycho-Logic”, “hypo)Cryptick(al” are all examples to this.
One penchant of Diary of Dreams is to use wordplay in naming their songs. A few potent examples include “Traum: A” (“traum” meaning “dream” in German); “Wahn! Sinn?” (“wahnsinn” means insanity, “wahn” delusion and “sinn” sense; ergo, “sense of delusion = insanity”); You(-das) (phonetic wordplay, “Judas”); “krank:Haft” (“krankhaft” translates as “pathological”, “krank” is “sick, sickly” and “haft” is “confinement” – again, a reference to insanity) and more basic ones like “PrisonER” or “hypo)Cryptick(al.”, “Forestown”, “Butterfly: Dance!” and so on. This tendency also reflects in the lyrics, but rather than rely on wordplay there as well, Adrian Hates prefers to be ambiguous yet somehow (or rather, sometimes) clear on what he wants to say. The Diary of Dreams repertoire is filled with questions (“Take the crippled mind next door – what do you think this room is for?”), bold statements (“Regret – that’s all it is!”) and cryptic outbursts (“I’m a revolutionary, a Christian fairy tale, I’m a missionary, a visionary anarchist.”) What can’t be denied is that there is often a sense of darkness, melancholy, insanity or simple pain in almost every single song. There are more melancholic ones, to be certain, (“Chrysalis, Mankind, Tears of Joy”), but almost horror-themed songs (“The Curse”, “Killers”, “Nekrolog 43”) also take the stage.
Quite recently, Adrian Hates and Gaun: A have come up with and released an album for their side-project, titled .com//kill. While the project, as it has been spearheaded by Adrian Hates, bears the trademarks of his sound (multi-layered instrumentalization, atmosphere build-ups, sudden bursts juxtaposed against continiuous synth lines, etc.) it still deviates somewhat that it does not ring like the leftovers of previous (or the cutting room floor of the next) Diary of Dreams album. Featuring more trance influences by way of synth lines but retaining the muli-layered approach, the project uses continuous build-up (adding of layers every 16 bars) that is more akin to the broader scope of industrial music (Acretongue and Haujobb come to mind) characterizes .com//Kill. You can check out .com//Kill’s “Monster Divine” video below.
Diary of Dreams Discography (Studio Albums and EPs Only)
1994 – Cholymelan
1996 – End of Flowers
1997 – Bird Without Wings
1998 – Psychoma?
2000 – One of 18 Angels
2002 – Freak Perfume
2002 – PaniK Manifesto
2004 – Nigredo
2005 – MenschFeind
2007 – Nekrolog 43
2009 – (if)
2011 – Ego: X