Led by electronic musician and vocalist Angelo Bergamini, Italy's Kirlian Camera have encompassed many styles since their inception in the early '80s, ranging from EBM and synth pop to ethereal darkwave and goth, occasionally venturing into Italo-disco, neofolk, and modern classical. Kirlian Camera have flirted with pop accessibility, even signing to Virgin for a brief period during the mid-'80s, but they've largely inhabited their own dark, experimental realm, delivering bleak, brooding songs about desire and isolation, with a touch of eroticism. Bergamini has remained the group's only constant member since its inception, with several musicians and singers passing through its ranks, including experimental composer Gianluca Becuzzi, East Wall's Fabrizio Chiari and Simona Buja, and Euro-dance producer Paul Sears.
Angelo Bergamini formed a band called Suicide Commando in Parma, Italy in 1979, along with keyboard player Fabrizio Chiari and bassist Mauro Montacchini, but they changed their name to Kirlian Camera in 1980, as vocalist/keyboard player Simona Buja joined the group. Following the release of Dawn..., the group's demo tape, as well as their first gigs, Italian Records signed Kirlian Camera and issued their self-titled debut 12" EP in 1981, which featured bassist Giorgio Vecchi, who had replaced Montacchini. More lineup changes occurred over the next few years: Chiari left and formed East Wall with Buja, and was replaced by Paul Sears; Vecchi was replaced by Bruno Bizzarri; and Buja left and rejoined Kirlian Camera. Additionally, Bergamini contributed to Buja's solo single "Passing Masks"/"Still Close," and also worked with successful Italo-disco group Hipnosis. However, he decided to leave the more accessible Hipnosis in order to focus on the more experimental Kirlian Camera. Full-length debut It Doesn't Matter, Now appeared in 1983, with singles "Communicate" and "Edges" released in extended disco versions. Single "Blue Room" appeared in 1985, as did East Wall's debut single "Eyes of Glass," which Bergamini played on; the track was licensed by ZYX and subsequently became an Italo-disco classic.
Soon after, Sears left Kirlian Camera, Charlie Mallozzi joined, and the group signed with Virgin Records, becoming the first Italian band to do so. "Ocean" was released in 1986; by far the group's most radio-friendly song, it even appeared on a jukebox 45 as the B-side of the Human League's "Human." However, the label refused to release the group's less commercially viable material, and following 1987's darker "Helden Platz," Kirlian Camera left Virgin. The group then collaborated with This Mortal Coil's John Fryer on the 1988 full-length Eclipse (Das Schwarze Denkmal), easily their darkest, most ethereal work yet. Following Buja's departure from the group, vocalists Bianca Hoffmann-Santos and Suzanne Reddington-Gardner temporarily joined before Emilia Lo Jacono became one of Kirlian Camera's longest-lasting vocalists, remaining with the group into the 21st century. Todesengel. The Fall of Life, a more industrial-leaning third full-length, appeared in 1991, and included covers of Ultravox's "Vienna" and Queen's "We Will Rock You." Experimental musician Simon Balestrazzi joined the group, and following 1992's Schmerz (an EP later expanded to a full-length on subsequent reissues), Kirlian Camera signed to the German label Discordia in 1993. While their music varied between harsh industrial club tracks and more atmospheric modern classical pieces, they were nevertheless lumped in with the neofolk scene. The group released several albums and singles for the label, including a collaboration with Dive, and increased their live activity, touring throughout Europe with the likes of Mephisto Walz and Die Form. Balestrazzi left in 1997, keyboard player Ivano Bizzi and vocalist Barbara Boffelli joined, and the group released the double-CD compilation The Ice Curtain in 1998.
Vocalist/musician/songwriter Elena Alice Fossi appeared on 1999's Unidentified Light and joined Kirlian Camera full-time in 2000, and also became a member of Bergamini's side project Stalingrad. Radio Luxor issued Kirlian Camera's 2000 full-length Still Air (Aria Immobile), 2001 remix/covers collection Kälte Container, and 2002's Uno, which compiled the band's demo and debut EP. Kirlian Camera signed to Trisol in 2003, making their debut in 2004 with Invisible Front 2005. This was followed by Coroner's Sun in 2006, and multi-instrumentalists Falk Pitschk and Sarah Crespi joined the band later in the year. After signing to Out of Line, the group released the full-length Shadow Mission HELD V and compilation Odyssey Europa in 2009. Another compilation, the three-CD box set Not of This World, was released by Trisol in 2010. Full-lengths Nightglory (2011) and Black Summer Choirs (2013) appeared on Out of Line, and several reissues of the group's earlier releases appeared on Dark Entries and Norton North. An EP of "21st Century Versions" of the vintage single "Edges" was issued by Italian Records in 2015, and Norton North released the compilation Radio Music A and EP The Three Shadows the same year. In 2017, Kirlian Camera's Sky Collapse EP, including a collaboration with iconic Swedish EBM group Covenant, was released by Dependent Records. ~ Paul Simpson