Let’s stay with that genre for a post. And let’s stay in Germany, too.
In the early 90s, Deine Lakaien were the colder spectrum of Darkwave, that’s why I like to bundle their first 2 albums under “Darkwave/Coldwave”. There nowhere near as cold as “true” Coldwave, but they have their moments. At the same time, though, we had Wolfsheim’s “No Happy View” which came out in 1992 and which is also Darkwave but nowhere near as cold.
Don’t get me wrong. The subject are still not happy and joyful, but the driving energy and beats and melodies are much more “active”. Less subdued. (This is in no way meant to mean “better” or “worse”, mind!)
Let me give you an example, please. With one of the still most preeminent club tracks in German Goth clubs:
Wolfsheim – The Sparrows and the Nightingales [No Happy View] | 1992 | Darkwave
Yes, yes. This track is of (German) legal drinking age. It can drive cars, vote fully and will be tried and sentenced on adult laws. It’s nineteen years old.
And Heppner’s voice and singing still win contests. The song simply doesn’t sound as “old” as many younger songs do. (The video? Hells yeah. That’s old-weak-sauce. The hairstyle alone. *shudders*)
I think I’ll take this on on another Sunday-special: How different songs age differently.
But this one is about this Song.
This Song was Goth. Still is Goth. And so good that even mainstream radio stations still play it from time to time, and did so more often “back then”. When I was sixteen, I heard that song at least twice a week when listening to the radio. It had mainstream appeal while still being firmly anchored in a subculture (That, at this tame, liked to spot a hairstyle that’s called “Vogelnest” and was utterly, non-ironically, serious about it. Just think about THAT for a second or two…).
Because of the melody. The voice. The lyrics. And the musical arrangement and electronic execution. It’s very “German” through this. It took an electronica-music Kraftwerk legacy and substituted Kraftwerk’s slow, methodical and cold techno-industrial (NOT THE MUSICAL GENRE!) lyrics with gothic’s romantic melancholy and gave it the warmth of a thick, good blanket on a cold autumn day. And the same emotional appeal.
That was, for all intents and purposes, a great deal of what made 90s Goth music and scene so damn appealing to me.
It wasn’t just about violence, slutty sex and terrorizing auditory assaults.
It was about feelings and emotions while at the same time being very danceable and likeable.