Once known as the vocalist for Washington, DC post-punk band The Opposite Sex, Shawn Helton unveiled his new Memory Mask project with the release of Empire Land in May of this year. With themes revolving around the human condition, hidden history, and political conspiracy, the album showcased a stylistic and synth-laden blend of darkwave and post-punk, that is now receiving a new treatment produced by New York post-rock/post-punk act Black Rose Burning; this new “remix/reboot” of Empire Land will be appearing in the form of a four-track EP later this fall, with the Moondust Reboot version of “Starless Skies” marking the first in the series.
Of the reboot, Helton explains that Black Rose Burning’s George Grant approached him after hearing previews of the album on social media prior to its release. “I gave the very talented Black Rose Burning free reign to reboot ‘Starless Skies’ and was excited by the creative approach to contrast modern darker, heavier synth sounds with a warmer clean guitar sound that juxtaposed nicely with my melancholic vocals and the string synth from the original,” Helton explains further, going on to say that the vocal layering and new arrangement were more evocative of an ’80s post-punk dreamscape. He concludes, ” My hope is that the gothic music scene is at a stage now more than ever to embrace more genre-bending songs and albums from bands like Memory Mask and Black Rose Burning.”
Empire Land was originally mixed by NƎkkomix, and was performed entirely by Helton, with Scott Leader performing bass on the album track “Flood Your Heart.” The album was released on May 27 and is available via Bandcamp. Formed in 2018, Black Rose Burning released its debut record The Year of the Scorpion on June 26.