Every now and then, Jim Semonik takes his obsession with electro-industrial music to the limit. Normally, he's content to be DJ Hiem at the Ceremony goth/industrial club night and the frontman of local EBM-industrial duo Rein[forced]. But when the stars align, he launches an all-out assault against the conformity of the music scene -- usually, a one- or two-day fest that showcases national and local acts and draws a wide audience.
Semonik's sixth Cyber Wars fest in as many years returns to his roots, with the very first artist he ever brought to town back in the heyday of Club Laga: New York City's Android Lust. A longtime denizen of goth staple Projekt Records, Lust mainly consists of Bangladesh-born singer Shikhee, who also composes all of the music. Look no further for a possible successor to Switchblade Symphony, the former dark queens of the goth scene, because Shikhee's no wallflower. Her music is vehement and venomous, feeding on rage and spite, yet not dependent on the thud-thud denominator common to many goth-club hits.
"Dragonfly," the single from her latest, Devour, Rise and Take Flight, is slinky, sexy and pulsating, referential to Tori Amos, Danielle Dax and Björk, while tracks like "The Body" ooze guitar-based aggression a la Trent Reznor. That song echoes the sentiments of recent "revenge" songs by female pop stars, with lyrics such as "You think you have the right / Because you fucked me a couple of times / To tell me what to do / With this damned body of mine." Apparently the CBS series Navy NCIS considers Android Lust the perfect soundtrack for its goth-girl scientist character, Abby Sciuto -- the music has been featured on the show seven times.
Rounding out Semonik's marquee is Madison-to-Chicago fave Stromkern. With a combination of rapped rhymes (anyone remember Consolidated or MC 900 Ft. Jesus?) and Euro-angsty crooning over lush keyboards and steady beats, the group represents a formulaic pinnacle of American dance-friendly industrial bands. Lyrically, it takes potshots at the corrupt, 1984-style police state our nation is in danger of becoming; the single "Stand Up," from the album Light It Up (WTII Records), could be considered its answer to Public Enemy or Fugazi.
With a drum kit and guitars, and a lineup augmented by members of Iris and Null Device, Stromkern members pride themselves on being a live performing act, not just a bunch of electronic poseurs hitting the playback button. And that should stir up the mosh pit a little, as the adventurous among the gleaming canyons of the Steel City experience the best that dark music currently has to offer.
Cyber Wars VI. 9 p.m. Sat., Aug 11. Featuring Android Lust, Interface, Nyarlathotep, Surviving the Odyssey and DJ Crash Zero. Also 9 p.m. Sun., Aug. 12, featuring Stromkern, Agnes Wired for Sound, Terror Firma Sky, Wreckcreation and DJ Hiem. Pegasus, 818 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $15 ($25 for both days). All ages. 412-726-2925