Music News

Local Musician and DJ Thom Gabaldon (a.k.a darksouldealer) Passes Away

We have the unfortunate task of reporting some tragic news today that's bound to sadden many. Local DJ and musician Thom Gabaldon, who performed off and on over the years as darksouldealer, passed away early this morning after succumbing to cancer. He was 44 years old.

As many of his countless friends would tell you, Gabaldon was a mountain of a man with an equally big heart, a yen for pandas, and an incalculable thirst for music.

One of his longtime friends, Layal Rabat, told us earlier today that, unlike most people, Gabaldon wasn't just a fan of a handful of genres and had a passion for all music.

"So much of it, [I] can't describe a genre," Rabat says. "Someone commented on someone else's post that they had seen him at every show since the '90s."

Aleksandr Aeternum, another friend of Gabaldon, described his wide-ranging musical tastes (which included his fervent fandom for The Legendary Pink Dots) over a Facebook chat this morning.

"Thom had an incredible love for music that was eccentric, bizarre, and preferably obscure," Aeternum says. "He got his start in music going to punk rock shows at the FUCK (First United Christ's Kingdom) Church in Des Moines, Iowa. He moved to Arizona and worked at Zia Records for years. He loved to recant the time he confronted Peter Steele, of Type O Negative, about racist lyrics in Steele's other band, Carnivore."

Aeternum added that he'll always remember Gabaldon for putting on Black Coffee, an all-ages night in the mid-aughts at both the old Counterculture Café in Phoenix and later the Sub Culture Café in Tempe where he performed as darksouldealer and spun goth, darkwave, synthpop, and old-school industrial.

Gabaldon also pulled occasional gigs as darksouldealer at various Sadisco* events over the years and was a regular presence at the formerly monthly themed dance parties.

In fact, the first time we ever encountered Gabaldon was at one of the Fight Club Sadisco* events that took place at bygone punk bar Jugheads many moons ago. As other attendees at the annual event were wont to do, he was in the middle of a fight, albeit with himself.

As the clamor of industrial and EBM blared over the speakers, Gabaldon was mimicking Edward Norton in the cult flick and doing the man dance in solo fashion, whipping his trademark long black curly locks around as he threw his body against a security barrier and dusted himself with haymakers.

It was just a bit befitting the theme of the event, however, as Gabaldon was a completely affable cat who never was the aggro sort. According to Aeternum though, he was a very opinionated and a proud liberal who was outspoken about many topics, usually thing pertaining to music.

"I don't think he kept anything to himself ever," he says.

Gabaldon was also a poet and writer (you can check out some of his prose via Blogspot) who also penned a pair of freelance articles for Phoenix New Times back in 1999 about bygone Valley grindcore band Unruh and one concerning a few local radio programs that were broadcasting underground music during that era.

He also had an ongoing ambient music project called dreamcell, which Aeternum describes as "great, drone-y lushness." Per the project's SoundCloud, Gabaldon continued creating tracks for dreamcell up until last month on his laptop from his hospital bed while undergoing cancer treatments since last year. Some of the tracks, which are drenched in moody and dark sounds, were dubbed with titles like "They inject me with fire (rough)" and "A month of frustration v1," which may reveal his state of mind at the time.

Gabaldon also had a pretty wicked sense of humor, which Aeternum referenced during out Facebook chat earlier today, citing the dude's infamous claims to fame where he modeled a rather shirt sold via the website that declared, "I'm the teenage girl you jerked off in the chat room with." (You can still see the pic on the front page of the site.)

We once spoke to Gabaldon about his brief bit of Internet fame and it was something he honestly enjoyed having, as he told me that people would recognize him from the pic.

We've had a few other conversations with Gabaldon over the years that weren't just limited to his infamy. We once spent several hours having a deep conversation with the well-spoken dude while hanging out in the parking lot of the Trunk Space one night after a show in 2011. Much was discussed about music (natch) but we also talked a lot about failed relationships, broken hearts, and the loneliness and ultimate regret that comes with such things.

He seemed to be in a dark place in his life around that time but our talk seemed to cheer him up a bit. It's also a conversation that we won't soon forget.

Gabaldon had that effect on others, as evidenced by the outpouring of tributes and memories that have been posted to his Facebook, including mentions of many memorable conversations he had with people, like one referenced by a friend named Billy Sorenson.

"We talked music, David Lynch films, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 at one of my first Sadiscos," Sorenson wrote. "You were an eclectic snob when it came to tunes, and you were loved by many. If there's a heaven, and you're there Thom, tell them to replace their harps with electric guitars."

A memorial concert in Gabaldon's honor is currently being planned. Friends can check out his Facebook account for more info as it's available.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.