Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I've just gotten through listening to a leaked copy of Bauhaus' new album slated for March release, Go Away White.

Y'all ready for this?

First impression: There really isn't anything of the old Bauhaus. Which is not so much a diss, as it is a "to be expected" part of the experience. And while I also fully expected it to be a dud, I also really wanted to give it a shot. I'm a fangirl -- what can I say? But I suppose fangirls and fanboys are the harshest of critics, so for better or for worse, take it or leave it...

It's awful.

And you aren't going to believe this, but as much as I love to be right, that statement makes me truly sad, because I really, really wanted to be wrong.

I do understand why it's being touted as "stripped down." There are no inventive, broken glass and razors guitar assaults from Daniel Ash here, no fresh or ferocious drumming from Kevin Haskins, nor fierce or elegantly disquieting bass from David J. This isn't old Bauhaus, for sure, and that IS the big, fat, glaring problem. But not for reasons of sentimentality or old fogey-ness that you might think a fan of the old stuff would be carrying on about.

The problem with Go Away White in a nutshell is that the songs lack passion and intensity, and sound half-hearted, uninspired. No one is owning it. Some symptoms: the lyrics set their sights on something greater but are repetitive, pedestrian, and unsatisfying. Peter Murphy's voice has aged well, but punctuating songs with a bellow doesn't make his smaller range less apparent nor does it make mediocre songs sound more edgy. Backing lyrics are identical in their death-rattle drone on quite a few songs. Dreadful, boring instrumentation throughout. Instruments sometimes mixed so low and flat that only Peter's voice comes out clear. But that's okay, because there's really not a lot there: I would not be surprised if the drums, bass, and guitar were lifted from practice riffs out of a textbook.

So, what is this leading up to?

This is so bad. The album really hits home for me that David, Kevin, and Daniel have become merely Peter Murphy's backing band. I'm not kidding. I cannot believe this album was a collaborative effort, unless it was compromised to death.

The songs 'Undone,' "Saved,' and 'Zikir' -- among others -- sound suspiciously like rejects from a post-Deep Peter Murphy album: safe, pseudo-spiritual tunes for the adult contemporary set. 'International Bullet-Proof Talent' sounds amateurish, like musical weekend warriors jamming together in a garage for the first time and not quite hitting it. 'Black Stone Heart' has a bit of interest in it, with its mash-up of different sounds and styles, but still comes off insincere. The album is decidedly not avant garde, brutal, stark, potent...or memorable. While I didn't expect In the Flat Field I did expect some ingenuity, some spark, some life. Some Bauhaus.

Rabid Peter Murphy fans will probably like this album. But for fans of the Bau, don't bother except to complete your archive (looks like collectors will be able to get it in limited edition white vinyl). This is very much a vehicle for Murphy, and a disappointing one at that. But even so, the responsibility for this unimaginative and spiritless outing lies with all four members. Sad.

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Blogger saudade said...

Very interesting take on the album from a music message board:

Ok...confession time.

I have never never never been a gigantic fan of Bauhaus.

In fact I can honestly say there is not a single album of theirs that i can listen to end to end. I find myself quite frequently skipping tracks.

In respect to the new album I have yet to skip a track. I found that the entire experience was a complete one from end to end. In fact I found the album very satisfying. I especially like the 2nd act. It seems more cohesive.

I am very bummed that this is not going to be toured. Its a shame as it seems to be a full inclusion of all the acts that these 4 have been involved with.

With that being said, I was fully set up for disappointment based on what the lads have been up to as of late. Petes last cd was a huge disappoinment for me. The LNR abortion at the Strummer benefit was a great sadness. David's solo stuff is spotty at best. Not all of it is great. However I feel that this CD is finally some sort of great exclamation point on the end of their cohesive careers. Maybe this is a stepping off point for things greater than Bauhaus.. Who knows? If they went away with this it wouldnt be the most terrible thing in the world now would it?

RE: the LNR "abortion" at Strummerville. I'm glad someone had the balls to say it. Still very sad though.

Can't say I agree on the album being "complete" or "satisfying" but I do see the point about the culmination of their careers as of late. Peter's work has been spotty since Deep, Kevin has made a career of background music for TV shows, Daniel's albums *cringe*, and David...well...

Y'all know I love David's solo work, and I respect him because he hustles like nobody's business, but he's becoming somewhat of a quiet caricature of seminal artists in the twilight of their heydey. While some of his stuff has been AMAZING (LA Gem Hall comes to mind) I am almost embarrassed by some of his work. Sometimes I think he's got peeps he trusts who just let him go to town w/o being honest with him about the actual merit of his projects. Or maybe I'm just making excuses.

Anyway, this does feel like a big old exclamation point on the end of an era of ups and downs that started almost 30 years ago.

Oy, I need a drink and a listen to Mask, maybe even Estranged later too.

January 15, 2008 at 10:04:00 PM PST  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Still haven't heard it. Well, not really. I started to play the two songs on myspace and I had to stop them. Reason number one being that Peter's voice has been getting on my nerves more and more lately. I read you're review and you had in there what I had suspected (but didn't want to admit to/ acknowledge, etc) that the boys became Pete's backing band. WTF??!! That's awful. Why?! The three of them are talented and should stick to working together. I love Danny but he doesn't work without David. Anywho.....

February 29, 2008 at 12:18:00 PM PST  

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