10 March 2008
Go Away Bites
I was told that a new Bauhaus album came out. This was a lie. A new Bauhaus song came out, and it wasn't new; it was recorded about eight years ago and put on the soundtrack to Heavy Metal 2000. Even that song is arguably more a Tones on Tail song with Peter Murphy singing on it, in the tradition of "Burning Skies," than a Bauhaus song. That is a much better thing than a Love and Rockets song with Peter Murphy singing on it. Most of this album, "Go Away White," is tired, rehashed combinations of Beatles basslines and harmonizing with grunge rock fuzzy unimaginative powerchord combinations courtesy of Daniel "I will never grow up" Ash. Thrown in for a dash of that Gothic mystery we all love are a couple of songs where Peter Murphy plays his stomach-cello through his redolent and rich throat. "Saved" and "Zikir" are extrapolations of the "Cascade" and "Dust" compositions, minus the fun and sexiness, respectively. "Saved," to its credit, contains some good saxophone work toward the beginning, which he never would have done on a solo album. That is all Ash. Towards the end, they start using the tell-tale gothic bell sound, employed so resonantly in early Dead Can Dance songs. Here, it is as though they got halfway through the album and realized that the "godfathers of goth" had no Goth and way too much Lennon-McCartney. The album's first song is a pathetic, tired thing. A variation on Rubber Soul basslines complete with gay back-up vocals. "Adrenaline" would have been at home on Stone Temple Pilots' second album, were it good. Instead, we have Peter Murphy repeatedly yelling for no apparent reason, as if trying to prove to us that really, he's not old, and that this album really isn't a mid-life crisis. I'm glad he does that, because I thought that it was. "Undone" is so bad that I am not going to dignify it with words. I could not even let myself finish the song. "International Bullet-Proof Talent" is a decent convertible rock song. But if I get the opportunity to drive a convertible again, I will listen to the immortal Tones on Tail dance single, "Go" over and over again and never go under seventy. This song is more for driving around the suburb at 35 on a May day where it's just warm enough to take the top down. A song title with that many syllables does not make for a good line to repeat over and over in stupdi back up vocal fashion. By the time you have finished listening to the album, you will have forgotten what "Endless Summer of the Damned" sounds like. I have to admit that I was surprised when "Mirror Remains" started, flawlessly segued into by the spoken word vision-quest business at the end of "Saved," immediately jumping into the kind of basslines and beats that Dr. Dre and Cypress Hill brought to the hip-hop world. About two and a half minutes into the song, Peter Murphy coughs. Maybe he's been having too much of the chronic. It's probably kept in the mix to conjure up those Romantic Gothic associations of the frail, consumptive poet. That, or so critics could describe the album as "raw," one of those words that gets unquestionably received as a positive adjective. There is a difference between raw as in Raw Power and raw as in raw wheatgrass juice. Thankfully, we get dissonant piano chords, "Aladdin Sane" style twinkles, and hand claps at the end of the song. After realizing the first five songs are never to be listened to again, we know that we can at least listen to this song to hear what some middle-aged British guys sound like in the studio with some gin and juice. "Black Stone Heart" is all b-side and tambourine and tuneless crooning and noodling. They try the piano and hand-claps trick again, but no cigar this time. Finally, "The Dog's a Vapour" arrives. Half slow, sinuous atmospheric mystery and half scalding, bombs-dropping durmstrang, the song is amazing, and a very worthwhile contribution to the Bauhaus catalog. It would have been so much more exciting had the song not existed for eight years already. Then, the album puts its tail between its legs and wanders out in the Turkish tone of an Outside segue that Peter Murphy must have snuck back into the studio and recorded after smoking some opium. "Oh, gee, guys-ha- how did that get there?" Daniel Ash was so bothered that Peter Murphy snuck a song (?) like "Zikir" onto an album he so desperately tried to make rock that he called him a c*nt and punched him. Peter Murphy then pulled his hair and tackled him to the ground, yelling "Adrenaline!" over and over again, and Kevin Haskins and David J (always the two more dignified members of the band) had to pull them off of each other, a severance that became final, and now Bauhaus are permanently broken up and can get back to making respectable and occasionally enjoyable solo albums. Thank God.