Monday, 22 October 2018

Bauhaus ‎– Burning From The Inside (1983) (1988 editon)

Style: Acoustic, Goth Rock, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Beggars Banquet

01.   She's In Parties
02.   Antonin Artaud
03.   Wasp
04.   King Volcano
05.   Who Killed Mr. Moonlight?
06.   Slice Of Life
07.   Honeymoon Croon
08.   Kingdom's Coming
09.   Burning From The Inside
10.   Hope
11.   Lagartija Nick
12.   Here's The Dub
13.   Departure
14.   The Sanity Assassin

Bass – David Jay
Drums – Kevin Haskins
Guitar – Daniel Ash
Producer – Bauhaus
Vocals – Peter Murphy
Words By, Music By – Bauhaus
Mastered By – Ian Gillespie

It’s not remembered much, but in the early eighties Bauhaus were one of the bands signed in the USA by A&M Records as part of a surprisingly vibrant effort from that label when it came to any number of then-new UK acts. Then again, signing the Police and seeing them become superstars probably didn’t hurt, so there was a reason everyone from the Human League to Squeeze to Simple Minds to Joe Jackson found an American home there. Bauhaus never broke through, though, but by the time its various members had found Stateside success on their own in the late eighties, whether via Love and Rockets or Peter Murphy’s solo career, it meant inevitable re-releases -- which means my first memory of Burning From The Inside, the final of the four studio albums that marked the band’s original run, was of a staggered, divided photo of a brightly lit but still ominous, wintry landscape encased in an American A&M-logo-marked CD longbox. Not perhaps what the group originally figured when it came to visual impact. 
The thing about Burning From The Inside, turning thirty years old this month, is that there is no one thing -- it’s an album title that lives up to itself, a sound of a tight unit fragmenting, where the centre stopped holding. One factor was uncontrollable: Murphy ended up suffering a bout of pneumonia that required extensive care at the time of the album’s recording, meaning both his performances and overall input were drastically reduced. The impact played out in various ways: the album’s lead-off track and one single, 'She’s In Parties', is disruptive enough to start with, Daniel Ash’s guitar playing one of his darkest, extreme blasts and smears, violent and queasily choppy. But the promotional video for the song tries to present the band as a unit even while Murphy gets in plenty of the glamour shots while the rest of the group sometimes literally stand around doing nothing. At one point the camera cuts away to show David J, Ash and Kevin Haskins doing a kind of kid’s game in the background. It all may be thoroughly intentional, but it’s hard not to read things as shifting rapidly. Before the album had even been released, the group made the decision to break-up following two last London shows a few weeks beforehand, leaving Burning behind as one last full-length sprawl of sound as an unintentional shroud. 
But at the same time it’s such a compelling sprawl at its best, a case for fragmentation as beauty, where an alternate band path where the group never broke up would have it seen more as a new, rich chapter in an already varied act’s still unfolding history, taking the sense of multiple impulses that had played out on earlier full-lengths and singles and finding even more directions to explore. J’s particular fascination with the doom-heavy crawl of classic Jamaican dub production from the seventies was always evident from the start of the band -- there’s a reason why 'Bela Lugosi’s Dead' could have been one hell of a King Tubby production, going further in the course of ten minutes what the Clash never quite achieved throughout their own existence. The world of film and that powerful, fluid but anchoring bass recombine again on 'She’s In Parties', the lyrics serving an extended cinematic metaphor rather than a specific tribute, with the extended coda playing with every trick in the book -- backwards guitar, melodica, deep as hell echo, fragmented snippets of singing. It’s no rewrite, but its own vibrant, darkly playful construction. It also helps underscore the no-less-compelling work of Haskins as a drummer, as keen to rework his straightforward performances through production as to blast away, a further indication of how involved he was in the overall sound and composition as much as the rest of the band.

As for Ash’s musicianship, the delicate precision he’d started unveiling on acoustic guitar a couple of albums beforehand started coming completely to the fore. 'King Volcano', which could almost be Dead Can Dance suddenly emerging out of nowhere were it not for Murphy’s unmistakable voice leading a sea shanty singalong, rotates around such a sweet, still alien guitar part while Haskins’s percussion seems even more like something from a long past century, future shock transformed into ghosts emerging into a new light. If you played it at Mumford and Sons or the Lumineers they wouldn’t get it -- then again, they don’t deserve to. But the surprises and twists continue to emerge: one song, 'Wasp', is named after a synthesizer and barely lasts half a minute of a redone wisp of a melody; another, 'Honeymoon Croon', lets Haskins fully bust out the rolling glam-rock beat that he and so many other contemporaries used in the early eighties, not unexpected from them but rarely sounding so pummelling. 
'Antonin Artaud' struts, twists and settles into a lyrical coda of “Those Indians wank on his bones,” which might be enough to make most go “Oh please” and tune out. Then again, Artaud himself might well sympathize with such a choice of words -- and when the final minute and a half begins, a tight as hell tempo and arrangement shift on the part of the band that gets crazier and more intense as it goes, you suddenly realize that the epic roar of Drive Like Jehu (or just about any band on the similarly San Diego-based Gravity label) a decade later had deep roots indeed. Allegedly Bauhaus did a version of this song live around this time that went on for something like half an hour -- and rather than being surprising it still almost seems too short. As it happens, though, the longest song on the album, the title track, is indeed just as long as 'Bela Lugosi’s Dead', only with an opposite feeling, like the sense of an experiment finally concluded. In place of the nervous, quick pace and slow ratcheting up of musical and lyrical tension on that debut, 'Burning from the Inside' starts only with Ash’s electric guitar in a steady loop of a riff, Murphy lyric revolving around a key line, “And now I don’t see you anymore.” When J and Haskins step into the arrangement at various points, it’s a stop-start chug, a kind of forcing a way through a song via staccato moments. 
This sense of conclusion and other routes can be heard in the full emergence of J and Ash both as lead vocalists -- the latter already had a few releases out with the Tones On Tail name -- as Murphy’s illness meant time to work on their own and, quite literally, more songs to sing, in whole or in part. Whatever ill feelings that might have caused in terms of a larger group effort, their showcase moments are just that, and their two key load vocals capture them to a T. J’s 'Who Killed Mr. Moonlight' locks into the sense of a cinematic 1940s dark bar room jazz and hushed folk music that defined much of his later work, piano and distorted organ forming the lead instrument, Ash’s saxophone adding even more twisted sorrow to already crushed lyrics: “All our dreams are melted down... all our stories burnt... someone shot nostalgia in the back.” When J. plaintively sings towards the end of the song “Extracting wasps from stings in flight,” the arresting image is a simple reversal but feels all the more loaded.

As for Ash, he fully goes to town with a fragile, piercing beauty on the tune immediately following 'Who Killed Mr. Moonlight', 'Slice of Life', the T. Rex connection that the band had from its days of covering 'Telegram Sam' suddenly taking on a new life. But this was Bolan if he had been a slinky purr underpinning quick piercing anger rather than mutating into a strutting star machine, Ash initially singing over and again “What’s the difference” with a feeling of calm resignation backed by his own wordless sung sighs. When the chorus kicks in, swiftly but clearly repeated, you can almost hear him tear across the guitar strings with his fingers more than simply play. He then concludes an extended break on the chorus with the call “And the problem expands inside your HEAD!,” a blistering accusation potentially directed both outwardly and internally. So much of what not only Tones on Tail but also Love and Rockets would later extrapolate musically fully came to the fore here, on songs like 'Real Life', 'An American Dream' and more, but here it sounds like it’s bursting out even while leaving a gentle, calm touch. 
At the same time, when Murphy is the one singing lead over these musical combinations, the results suggest other ways forward that might have happened but simply couldn’t after this. 'Kingdom’s Coming' has another stellar, sweet Ash acoustic start, dramatic initially then suddenly flowing, while J’s piano adds to the arrangement, a ruined hint of a sonata. Following a clearly heard sigh that sounds completely resigned rather than romantic, Murphy sounds distant, literally looking heavenward perhaps as the title is delivered, then suddenly dragged and focused back into the final thirty seconds, broodily pronouncing as the others whisper/sing around him, a literalized opposition that might not actually be conflict but doesn’t seem like love. 
Yet for all the twists and turns there’s still 'Hope'. Literally: the last song on the album, and for nearly a decade and a half the last song Bauhaus ever did in most of the public eye. If 'Hope' had actually been the end of the Bauhaus story then that might have been a little happier for all concerned, even if that meant never seeing either of the two reunion phases or enjoying the half-completed clutch of tracks that made up the band’s actual last album Go Away White in 2008. ('Endless Summer Of The Damned', at the least, is a keeper from that one.) But 'Hope' would have been a real valediction and hail-and-farewell, if not necessarily on the band’s full terms.

With Murphy disappearing in echoed expulsions of words on the title track right before it, 'Hope' is again an Ash number in many ways, but different yet again from the earlier efforts, sweet guitar that could have been courtesy of the Byrds or Gram Parsons almost, J’s apparently fretless bass sounded similarly yearning, like throwing open a window to escape from everything gone before. The only words to the song, repeated several times, lock into that feeling perfectly -- “Cause your mornings will be brighter/Break the line, tear up rules/Make the most of a million times no” -- and they’re sung by several voices at once, no actual lead vocal as such. It’s a pep-up-your-spirits number after trawling through depths that somehow avoids treacle, it’s the least obvious thing one might think of when the name Bauhaus is invoked, and it’s precisely that fact that makes it the most appropriate way for such a band, always bigger than its stereotype, to step away.
John Doran / The Quietus

Bauhaus ‎– Mask (1981)

Style: Alternative Rock, Glam, Goth Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, Beggars Banquet, 4AD, Polygram

A1.   Hair Of The Dog
A2.   Passion Of Lovers
A3.   Of Lillies And Remains
A4.   Dancing
A5.   Hollow Hills
B1.   Kick In The Eye 2
B2.   In Fear Of Fear
B3.   Muscle In Plastic
B4.   The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
B5.   Mask

Performer – Daniel Ash, David Jay, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy
Lyrics By, Music By, Producer – Bauhaus
Mastered By – Arun Chakraverty
Photography By – Sheila Rock

Managing the sometimes hard-to-negotiate trick of expanding their sound while retaining all the qualities which got them attention to begin with, on Mask the members of Bauhaus consciously stretched themselves into newer areas of music and performance, resulting in an album that was arguably even better than the band's almost flawless debut. More familiar sides of the band were apparent from the get-go; opening number "Hair of the Dog," one of the band's best songs, starts with a double-tracked squalling guitar solo before turning into a stomping, surging flow, carefully paced by sudden silences and equally sudden returns to the music, while Murphy details cases of mental addictions in pithy phrases. The energy wasn't all just explosive angst and despair, though; the one-two punches of "Kick in the Eye" and "In Fear of Fear" have as much hip-shaking groove and upbeat swing to them as portentous gloom (Ash's sax skronk on the latter, as well as on the similarly sharp "Dancing," is a particularly nice touch). Elsewhere, numerous flashes of the band's quirky sense of humor -- something often missed by both fanatical followers and negative critics both -- make an appearance; perhaps most amusing is the dry spoken-word lyric beginning "Of Lillies and Remains," as David J details a goofily grotesque situation as much Edward Gorey as Edgar Allen Poe. Add to that three of the most dramatic things the band ever recorded -- the charging, keyboard-accompanied "The Passion of Lovers," the slow, dark fairy-tale-gone-wrong "Hollow Hills," and the wracked, trudging title track, where the sudden appearance of an acoustic guitar turns a great song into a near-perfect blend of ugliness and sheer beauty -- and the end result was a perfect trouncing of the sophomore-slump myth.
Ned Raggett / AllMusic

Bauhaus ‎– In The Flat Field (1980)

Style: New Wave, Goth Rock, Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: 4AD, Virgin, Beggars Banquet

A1.   Double Dare
A2.   In The Flat Field
A3.   A God In An Alcove
A4.   Dive
A5.   The Spy In The Cab
B1.   Small Talk Stinks
B2.   St. Vitus Dance
B3.   Stigmata Martyr
B4.   Nerves

Bauhaus Are – Daniel Ash, David Jay, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy
Producer – Bauhaus
Written-By – Bauhaus

So you just got your dirty little hands on Bauhaus' debut album" Well, let me tell you something, prepare you ears for an awe inspiring musical ride. In it's short 38 minute running time, it scans over so many different emotions and musical directions. You will be amazed at the intensity of the vocals, the dissonance of the guitar and the truely awkward tendencies of the bass. It''s quirky, It's scary, It's Intense, It's Bauhaus, and at first listen, you may be thinking, "What have I gotten myself into"". The only answer to that my friend is, one hell of a trip through the blackest alleyways of a desolated and long forgotten town that is crumbling underneath the brilliance of this album. Does that make sense" No. But neither does this album... 
The album starts out with some real odd bass playing. They often utilize this, so get use to it. Wasting no time they jump into a popping bassline driven by powerful drums and insanely dramatic vocals. Peter Murphy pushes his voice to the limits on this LP showing that he has little to know restraints in his voice. Always he is pushing the songs into the depths of despair and agony with just sheer emotional power. It's really something to listen to. The opener is a fantastic track, displaying only a fraction of what the band is capable of though. The guitar plays it safe in the opener compared to other tracks. Take "Stigmata Martyr" for an example. At one point in the song, when Peter Murphy, I believe is either singing in toungues or in reverse, the guitar is doing something out of this world. It kind of sounds like demented birds chirping out of rhythm. I don't know really how to describe it. It paints such a vivid picture in the listener's mind though, as does every song. It seems to me as the album progresses, so does the strangeness of the music. The song "Small Talk Stinks" brings up memories of past Beatles' songs, or maybe even The Olivia Tremor Control. The track "St. Vitus Dance" (no, it's not Sabbath) features probably the strangest bass tone and accompanying bass line I've ever heard. The lyrics are equally unothodox as machines and dancing are often referenced. Possibly the most strange part of the song is the vocals. Towards the end, Peter just shrieks like an ape to the music, driving the song into pure musical insanity. Definately a highlight from the album. The atmoshere present in this album is also fantastic. The raw production of the music makes the tracks scratch out at the infinitely black chasm of sounds swirling around your frail mind so much more intense and enjoyable. Nothing is candy-coated on this album. The lyrics, the music and the atmosphere are all as painful as can be, each instruments bubbles out of the mix sometimes causing needless distortion to question you sanity. But that's most likely normal after sitting through this mess. 
Despair and depression are often expressed through music. But, not often is it displayed so effortlessly and effective like in this album. Maybe it's the lyrics that drive such emotions through the inpenetrable music. They really are something special. The lyrics in the title track are extremely well put together. So abnormal, they effectively create the feeling of misguided anger out of boredom or depression. To me, the lyrics depict a painfully boring and monotonous place in which the vocalist inhabited during themaking of the music. It seems plausible. Regardless of the dark intentions of some tracks on the album, a few songs maintain a mildly positive and fun atmosphere. "Dive" especially does this. The song really reminds me of Joy Division's "Interzone" because of the upbeat riffage and low tone of the vocals. Murphy's singing often reminds me of Ian Curtis, but in a very good way. Possibly the darkest and most powerful song here is "God In An Alcove". The vocals are layered and extremely present throughout the track. Despite the song's intense attributes, it remains incredibly catchy. After hearing the song enough you will find yourself yelling along with "Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Alcove!" I find it hard not to.  
This album is very unique. It is extremely intense, one of the most musically intense albums I've ever heard, really. Dark and diverse songs are all brought to life by Murphy's shiver enducing shrieks and breathtakingly vivd lyrics. The music creates such a strong atmosphere of hate, sadness, horror and dense imagery that will be stuck in your mind for hours even after you've stopped listening to it. The music may come off to some as being overbearingly dramatic at times. Take the begginning of "God in an Alcove" or the finale of the album at the end of "Nerves". These peices of music are actualy quite terrifiying.  
After reading all of this, you may be skeptical of popping this disc into you stereo. That's perfectly normal. The album is rediculously intense and may scare off unexpected listeners. But, because you read this, you should have mentally prepared yourself for the onslaught of shrieks, cries, quirky basslines, awkwardness, riffs, emotion and just pure brutality and honesty. Very strange music I know, but you should be fine. It may seem a little a bit exxagerated, and maybe it is. But all I know is, this album demands reapect and needs to be heard by all fans of great music. Also this album recquires "NERVES LIKE NYLON, NERVES LIKE STEEL!!!", just to make it through to the end, maintaining your sanity.
Justin Woodmancy  / sputnik music