James D. Stark
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James D. Stark

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""Fortress of Solitude" Review"

Stark's sophomore effort is as dark as the title implies, yet it's gloomy in an embracing sort of way. It's spooky, gothic, lonely and depressing, yet, contradictorily, warm and comfortable. Much like a rainy autumn day invites you to spend the day curled up in bed, "Fortress" invites the listener to give in, at least a little bit, to that dark streak that runs just beneath everyone's surface. This is a change for the better from Stark's first release, "Transcendence," which, while interesting, was much more generic and less emotive. It seems with this CD that Stark has become more knowledgeable of his instrument and more comfortable and confident in his skills. He sits back more often and lets the sounds roll over the listener rather than forcing them to "get it" as he seemed more apt to do on his previous effort. "Fortress" also finds Stark settling into a style that suits him well, a sound he refers to as "Darkwave." Though we've never heard this description before, it seems to fit. As best we can tell it's a gothic, dance, synth-pop type of thing, and one upon which Stark seems to have a firm grip. The biggest change from his first effort, however, is the addition of vocals that are haunting and well balanced with the dark feel of the album, yet are crisp, inviting and strong enough to make us wonder why he failed to include them on his first release. Despite the gothic/industrial/dance nature of the music, this is also a warm and intimate album, thanks in no small part to the added vocals. Stark has the potential to go big, and it's easy to imagine his tunes blasting over the sound system in trendy clubs from New York to London. Especially the moody tunes that switch emotions and turn upbeat halfway through, like track 8, the catchy "Home." This is not a CD for fans of crunching guitars and drums, but if soft keyboartds and plaintive vocals are your bag, this is as good a choice as you can find. The closing track, "King," departs dramatically from the rest of the CD, with no synthesizers, just Stark, his piano and his voice at their very best. The song brings to mind medieval minstrel music and showcases his vocal range and talent as a keyboardist and composer. It's a great signoff that leaves the listener realizing ther's more to Stark than meets the eye and wondering what talents he's left hidden in his considerable bag of tricks. - Pointblank DM

""Fortress of Solitude" Review"

Fortress Of Solitude is James D. Starks full-length debut album which includes about 10 tracks. James D. Stark describes himself a darkwave artist. Well, that’s exactly what his music reflects. Fortress Of Solitude represents consistently melancholy mid-speed electronic music including lots of dark and gothic ingredients. I have the heart to say that James D. Stark developed his own unique darkwave electronic style which he enriched with his convincing good singing. Despite the use of electronic instruments the album sounds pleasant warmth and authentic which was intensified by his serene singing. James also adapted the Depeche Mode song “Halo” that it perfectly fit with the rest and does not raise any idea originally being a Depeche Mode composition. “Fortress Of Solitude” is able to create an inimitable melancholy atmosphere without leading to tedium – thanks to the sallying songs “Need”, “Tears In The Dark” and “Home”. Well, James D. Stark imposingly showed his skills in producing empathetic music based on matured compositions and excellent vocal qualities. It’s a good feeling holding this little masterpiece in the hand. - Synthpop for the Masses

""Fortress of Solitude" Review"

Many of our dark culture artists ride solo, but rarely do they present themselves as a solo project. So when James D. Stark's "Fortress of Solitude" (not to be confused with Superman's icy abode) ended up in my mailbox, I was surprised and a little turned off. Stark tends to focus most of his attention on love songs; soft, flowing and sometimes even rhythmic. The synth work is right on par with most established and signed artists and his vocal work, though a little over the top at times, is clean and well practiced. Stark's rendition of Depeche Mode's "Halo" is pretty amazing, and sounds like the result of many hours of practice. Other memorable tracks include "Mists," "Tears in the Dark," and "Need." I'm serious when I say that if any of the staff from A Different Drum are reading, they should get this man signed. It's a refreshing change from the synthpop we're accustomed to. - Comatose Rose Magazine


Fortress of Solitude


Feeling a bit camera shy


James D. Stark is a solo Synthpop / Darkwave artist from the United States. A true renaissance man, Stark is master of both the arts and sciences in his complete autonomy in the production of "Fortress of Solitude". In this his second release, he is the composer, vocalist, engineer, producer, and graphic design artist, making the final production the most highly potent expression possible in the art. His musical style is that of a dark romantic nature, which possesses an ancient quality despite being produced with modern computer technology. A child of the '80s, Stark's influences come from the new wave movement and goth culture, which has transformed over the years into today's growing synthpop/gothic/EBM scene.