Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bauhaus - Crackle

Continuing in my Halloween vein, I had to also pull out Bauhaus - this is a "hits" compilation, conveniently putting most of their best known work on a single CD. Certainly a good start for anyone looking into this group.

As one of the original "goth" groups, their sound is macabre and dark, with angular rhythms (courtesy of Kevin Haskins and David J on drums and bass), the deep, growling voice of Peter Murphy, and the atmospheric guitar of Daniel Ash. Of course, the lyrics are suitably "spooky" and fits perfectly with the sound, creating something reasonably unique at the time, although similar to what the original Siouxie and the Banshees were doing.

While most everything on this disc is pretty high quality, of course one of their most famous - and most appropriate for Halloween - numbers is "Bela Lugosi's Dead". Sparse backing with Ash providing a haunting aural landscape over which Murphy sings in a vampiric voice, with lyrics that only remotely refer to Bela, but work in context. Their songs are not so much standard verse/chorus tunes as they are almost soundtrack-ish, which obviously works for them, but I could see that some listeners might be a bit turned off by that.

"Hollow Hill" could easily be the soundtrack to a horror film with the ethereal call and answer of the title along with Ash's strings-section like washes of guitar. They use almost a disco beat for "Kick in the Eye", making that a bit more accessible, but one of their strongest tracks is their cover of "Ziggy Stardust", which, while great, is pretty close to the original. Murphy gets powerfully intense on "Dark Entries" and the oddly-named "Terror Couple Kills Colonel" (taken from a newspaper headline) really works as a story and a song. They mix a loosely, mysterious, hollow sound with an almost funky change in "Burning From the Inside", making it one of their stranger offerings. Conversely, one of their prettier tunes is the highly melodic "Crowds", an incredibly emotional love/hate song, with Murphy painfully singing over a fairly basic piano backing. This is one of their best, if only for the passion delivered.

This is a solid package either for fans looking for a basic compilation of for newbies interested in seeing what the first wave of "goth music" was all about.