Painted Romans from Trondheim Norway is a long-standing eclectic solo act turned band on several occasions over the years. Paradoxically it wasn’t until 2020, the year of seeming apocalypse, when unexpected DJ and listener response dragged Painted Romans out of the dark and thus ended an era of total obscurity.

Wallpaper Silhouettes Years

Mats D. has been making music for three decades. Some might remember the cheeky post-punked and notoriously unpredictable "new" new wave band Wallpaper Silhouettes, active between the years 1999 and 2006; very much an "anti everything" act which, despite a handful of fans and critics home and abroad hailing it as an unfashionably authentic music group, went against the grain, messed up its own traction, and eventually found itself relegated to the outside of any worthwhile music scene in the early noughties, while admittedly casting long looks of contempt at the hyper-commercial new wave music movement that began to trend as Wallpaper Silhouettes fizzled out.

Early Painted Romans

By 2006 WS had run its course, but a more or less latent outsider persona continued giving character to the artsy, introverted, and melancholic musical act Painted Romans. A slight peak in interest and expectations followed the critically acclaimed 2008 "romantic synth pop" album with the bizzare title Evil Wigs and Bedroom Moments (40 Mins of Unsettling Painted Romans). However, initial interest was quick to fade both among listeners and press as the group (then a trio of ex-WS members) failed to keep up a momentum. The following semi-experimental pop album ...and Time! (2010) was a solo effort, and from then on Painted Romans would function as a sole moniker for Mats's low-key output over the next decade, occasionally surfacing for the odd gig either alone or with the help of instrumentalist Monica Ruud (ex Cybele) and bass player Thomas Sejnæs.

New drive...

Out of touch and unaware of a so called "post-punk revival", Mats "returned to his roots" in 2020 and made the Heart record, an album that gave Painted Romans a healthy dose of much needed reputation. To mark its release in a pandemic situation, a trio consisting of Mats and former members Jan Ottar Nystad and Thomas Sejnæs streamed a live concert on the 16th of October. They moved forward with this lineup, quickly attaining a degree of consistency and enabling the act to perform live again, although the pandemic didn’t allow for much of that.

A series of hard-hitting singles helped establish a new listener base for Painted Romans. January 2021 saw The Cold Delight which, according to Onyx Music Reviews, is "dark and morose just like all good goth songs can be and yet full of movement and life at the same time". White Light // White Heat had it as their track of the day.

Preceding that was Formation (lifted off Heart), a full-on gothic darkwave song that caught the interest of many around the world. It was this song that hauled Painted Romans in front of an international "dark" music audience. Heart itself made it onto El Garaje De Frank's best of 2020 list.

Coupled with the rough and tough May ‘21 gothic rocker Memento Mori"another song that will continually be present in our stereos this summer" (El Garaje De Frank) – Painted Romans now had a trio of songs that would enjoy a fair amount of airplay on top international alternative and underground FM and web radio. A highlight of the year was a performance at local gothic/pagan celebratory private festival Celebrata Hindrheimr.

In February 2022 Thomas left the group citing lack of enthusiasm. Mats put out a single called The Begging Existence, while the remaining duo adjusted to the loss of their bass player and gave a well-received 45-minute live performance at the Goths for Sanctuaries online festival in April, followed by local shows in June.

A recording session in July '22 was effectively halted at the outset by Covid illness, after which the duo drifted apart, turning Painted Romans into a solo effort once again. Coming to terms with this reality, Mats decided to move away from the typical "band sound" to explore music that lends itself more to solo performances. This development is indicatively heard on the May '23 album Song & Century where dark folk, gothic, and industrial elements create a rich and varied tapestry. According to El Garaje De Frank, Song & Century moves away from the post-punk genre of previous Painted Romans output. Instead "Mats becomes a darkfolk troubadour" delivering "an album that fits perfectly into the darkfolk category".

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