Mar 6, 2008

Bauhaus: Go Away White

"Wait, there's a new Bauhaus album?"

That's right, kids.

Twenty-two years or so after their last studio album, Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J, and Kevin Haskins have managed to record one "last" album as Bauhaus. Some sort of bickering seems to have quashed any hopes we might have had for a supporting tour, but the album itself is a nice surprise (if you're clueless, like me, that is -- I'm sure their core fans knew this was coming out a long time ago).

Go Away White is a strange, but mostly positive entry in the Bauhaus catalogue. The music has a considerably more produced sound to it, which is probably inevitable. There's also a distinct tone to the music that is less raw than old school Bauhaus, with more than a hint of the music created in the interim by Ash and Haskins (as Tones on Tail), by the whole crew sans Murphy (as Love and Rockets), and by Murphy on his own solo albums.

The most remarkable and welcome aspect of the album is the fact that Peter Murphy's voice hasn't lost any of its power or character. The music is decent, but his voice stands out more than ever as the signature element of the band's sound.

The opening track, "Too Much 21st Century" is a kind of bluesy rock song with a simple but catchy bass line. "Adrenalin" is closer to traditional Bauhaus, with some trademark screechy guitar going on in the background. The drums on "Endless Summer of the Damned" are very evocative of early 80s goth punk, though they remind me more of Joy Division than Bauhaus for some reason. "Saved" is a sort of wailing novelty track that I'm not really crazy about, though it does build to a decently atmospheric creepiness. "Mirror Remains" is a sort of unsettling dirge condemning the kind of vanity that leads to self-destructive behavior (mainly anorexia and the like) parts of it are fairly funny, in a very, very black way. "Black Stone Heart" is another "produced" but recognizably Bauhaus tune, though it drifts into Love and Rockets territory a bit with some odd sound effects and synth. "The Dog's A Vapour" is another dirge, but it suddenly kicks into a more rock mode around the four-minute mark.

If you buy this album, I recommend the iTunes Plus version, which comes with two videos from Coachella 2005 -- most notably their unforgettable performance of "Bela Lugosi's Dead," wherein Peter Murphy was lowered upside-down to the stage from up in the rafters someplace like a bat and sang the whole song in that position. Both this one and "Dark Entries" which closed the set, are well-shot and surprisingly well-recorded.

I was lucky enough to be there for that show, and it was pretty amazing. Unfortunately, I can't quite find myself in the crowd shots.

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