Brace yourself, dear readership. This one’s going for a ride.
The 90s were, in a sense, the only decade in which the World of Darkness could have grown in the ways it did. Forget all your preconceptions about it. Forget the (often hugely overblown) pretentiousness (although after re-reading some of the older rulebooks… fuck me if the authors didn’t try hard at times to sound as condescending as possible). Concentrate on one thing only: The frantic energy.
Let’s stick with the first of the Big Three for today.
Vampires. Trying to hold on to their humanity while also waging a covert war against bloodthirsty, religiously zealous brethren and ancient, near omnipotent and even more bloodthirsty (and also very much alien to anything living) ancestors and their implanted schemes, lies, subterfuges and mysteries. You were DEAD. And yet you wanted very much to stay alive. To keep on to what made you, YOU. To not slip away. To not fade. To not be reduced to a cog in the machine.
You prowled the night, drank from the Kine. You tugged strings of influence while watching over your own shoulder, hoping to never end up a marionette to some elder’s game. You used powerful, supernatural Disciplines to fight against monstrous opponents and subtle manipulation which were bound to yo and the demonic entity inside, fueled by the very blood that kept you alive. Depleting your very “life” force. Making you weak. Empowering the Beast within. Putting you in danger of slipping down further, losing control, losing yourself to It.
The night was yours. So you wished. So you hoped. So you were often led to believe.
But you had to fight for yourself to remain yours. And that fight was filled with pitfalls, dangers and slippery slopes.
It was an amazing, dangerous, frenzied time to be undead.
And the music of the 90s? It helped. Immensely.
Here, let me show to you why and how…
Let’s start with something truly revered.
Concrete Blonde | Bloodletting (The Vampire Song) | 1990
(Here’s the link to the full-length song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ_wOEByeLc)
Not only is Johnette Napolitano awesome, beautiful, charismatic, sexy and all around amazing, but the song itself is perfectly alligned with Vampire, at least in my mind’s eye. It’s moody, it’s filled with energy, it’s lyrics are short, weird and questioning and it’s perfect for nights of all the seasons in a year. It’s easy to see how this song was born out of the 80s, but it also foreshadows the things that are yet to come, musically and thematically, in the world of darker music.
Her voice has that slight growl, which is both dangerous and seducing at the same time. The bass is tuned low, the guitar almost shambles along and the rhythm is forcefully driving you along with the rest of the song.
Let’s see Edward mash with THAT style.
For our second offering, something that doesn’t itself too seriously but is still awesome all around.
Type 0 Negative | Black No.1 (Little Miss Scare All) | 1993
(Again, here’s the link to the full version. Listen to it too, at least once. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gijwsuHIU8k)
First: Rest in Peace, Peter Steele. Rest in peace you huge, big, magnificent bastard. :(
Okay. Before you read along, listen to the song. Even just the short version. Listen to it.
The music? Pure Goth. It’s dark, it’s haunting, it’s perfect to dance along to. To DRIVE along to. To let it play during a gathering of friends and just smile while eating, drinking and sharing stories. Then the voice. His voice. It’s still able to send shivers down my spine. Dude had a monster deep bass for vocal chords. He was also able to modulate and tune them to fit different songs. I do appreciate this in a singer.
But the feeling? Fucking BLACK, dude! Or it seems that at first sight, doesn’t it? Until you realize that he’s singing about a girl whose hair-colouring is fading. Sure, she’s also a dark seductress, but… Yeah, well, her roots are showing. – It’s this kind of self-aware humour that almost always is lost on non-goths, and sadly enough at the younger crops of goths, too, more and more often.
We’re goths. We dress in dark clothes. We enjoy darkly romantic stuff. We appreciate the macabre. We talk and think about death more often than the average bear. But at heart of it? We fucking like to party. Some of us with poetry slams, some with dancing, some with something else, most of us with a combination. We like humour. We like to make jokes about “our stuff”. The advanced seriousness and sulking people often conflate with us? Show. We like to fuck with people. We love black humour and deep sarcasm and sometimes also the proper louse, flat jokes. But we DO laugh, and we DO party, and we DO have fun.
And 90s Goth did that. Sometimes subtly. Sometimes overtly. Sometimes cheaply. Sometimes hilariously. But it’s there. And the World of Darkness had that, too. Sometimes it got too silly, yeah. But often it hit just the right spot.
The last offering for today.
Chris Isaak | Wicked Game | 1989 (Unplugged:1995)
Yes, edge-case. I don’t fucking care. The unplugged version KILLED. And seeing as MTV’s “Unplugged” is very much a child of the 90s (it started in 1989, but the 90s saw it grow hugely), I’ll just fucking do this. And you can’t stop me. And I’ve already given you two 90s songs, so shut up already and give me this one, okay? *grins*
Okay, Chris Issak fucking kills. He’s the damn boss of moody, romantic, dark songs. Try any other song from the Uplugged set list. I guarantee you that you’ll like it, if you’re even slightly plugged the way I’m plugged. … Yes, I’ll stop the word-play. Sorry.
Aaaanyway: Yes. Romance was a damn big point of the World of Darkness. Love and Lust are two of the biggest motivators there are in this world. Setting a romantic scene can have a powerful, dramatic effect. And it doesn’t have to be love-romance, it can also be scene-romance. Where the environment, thoughts and event that happened and are about to happen come together to put you in a romantic mood.
Like… Take an autumn day. Fast-forward to “night”. It’s windy. It’s dark. Not too cold yet. You’re taking a stroll. The moon is falling through quickly racing clouds. Leaves rustling in the wind. The smell of the coming cold. You walk along. Remembering relationships from your past. Thinking about current lovers, future affairs. Letting your mind go. Living that moment. Listening to the sounds of a city that seems slightly further away than a few hours earlier.
THAT’S romance too. And a powerful kind, if used correctly.
It shouldn’t be missing from the World of Darkness. Shouldn’t be missing from music.
And with those three songs, I’ll leave you to your night.
Have darkly romantic dreams, all. :)