Gothtober 2017 – 12th of October / VNV Nation – Darkangel

You’ve now listened to two VNV Nation remixes in a row.
It’s time to close the circuit and go to the source.

And here, I present you the one song that made me a VNV Nation fan in 1999. And a fan I still remain, even after me and Ronan and Mark all ageing, growing and changing. But while I do appreciate, like and at times love their new stuff… Well. As I said before: Emotional memories and strong reactions do tend do form during tumultuous times and around heightened hormonal levels.

In 1999, I was 16.

Trying to write about it all now, about the people I knew, the women I crushed and fell for, the friends I had, the concerts and parties and hangouts I visited, the places I hung out at… The memories I made. … Trying to write about all that is painful now.

Because, as for probably most of you, time marches on. The past never comes back. And while I’m still friends with quite a few people from around then, I’m not in contact with all any more. Some just moved away too far, too early. Some changed in directions I couldn’t compensate for. For some I did the same. And some… Some are quite simply lost. Forever.

Yes. Yes, I do miss those times.
Not for having been young.
But for the moments I experienced.

All those summer nights just spent hanging out with friends in a good bar, or at a park. Hugging. Cuddling. Talking. Oh, gods, the /talking/. About everything. Literally, everything. There was no shame, no fear, no anxiety. We opened up to each other completely.

I once was driven to a party hosted by a girl I had a huge crush on. Driven by the guy dating her. She knew about my crush. He knew about my crush. Everybody knew about my crush. Because we talked. Shared. Discussed. Always tried to understand.

There was trust, between all. Deserved trust.

That girl? She once spent the night at my place after she miscalculated and wasn’t able to catch a bus. Her boyfriend didn’t mind. She didn’t feel unsafe. And all we did was that I offered her my bed while I slept on my floor. And when she woke up because of a nightmare, I swept my sleep away, got in beside her into bed and just… Hugged her. Held her. Comforted her. Until she fell asleep again. And me shortly afterwards. When we woke up the next morning, she groggily looked at me, and hugged me again, for a long time.

And then we spent a magnificent day together. Me, her, her boyfriend and two friends.
We played Mage: the Ascension for 10 hours straight the following night.

It was… Just that kind of weekend.
And it was the weekend I first listened to Darkangel.

Is it any wonder I love that song so dearly?

Well.
Here you go.
A small insight into my past.

A small insight into what I mean, when I give Neil Gaiman’s most wonderful and most amazing toast:

“To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due.”
― Neil Gaiman, Season of Mists

And we’re in the season of mists, again. As we were last year, and as we will be next year.
But the memories we create this season, will be their own. And recede back into their own mists with time. As those of next year will. And the one after that. Until the sun collapses.

Sometimes memories hurt.
Even the sweet and tender ones.
Because you’ll never be able to truly experience them again as you did that one time in the past.

And still, there’s only one lesson to be learned from all this:

Onward now and on forever and onward now…
All great things to come.

Never stop.
Never fall back into the trap of all-consuming nostalgia. Into the trap of the deepest, blackest, most miserable weltschmerz there is: Self-pity for moments gone.

Always strive to experience new, great moments.
Never stop.

Nowhere in particular, a collection of Memories. 2017.

Nowhere in particular, a collection of Memories. 2017.

Holy fuck is Empires /still/ an amazing album…

Gothtober 2017 – 11th of October / Das Ich – Destillat (VNV Nation Remix)

Remixes!
Versions!
Goths!

Count the number of Temple of Love versions. Count the remixes of Beloved. Go talk to your favourite DJ and ask them for their favourite remix track/club version/dance cut.

This stuff is like fucking Pokémon for Goths! (And electroheads and a few other genre-nerds as well, I’m pretty damn sure.)

There’s a certain magic when it comes to good, or even great, remixes: You have the chance of seeing artists you like play around with and re-arrange the composition of another artist you like. And sometimes, magic emerges.

The song I’ve chosen is one of my favourite examples.
When this particular remix hit the ground, it was an /instant/ dancefloor favourite.
It became so much of a dancefloor favourite, that I’m pretty sure I know at least two people reading my entries who started to groan when they saw its name in the title. ;)

For over two years, you could not hit a single damn club in Rhine-Ruhr without hearing this track.

But, there’s more.

New Order doing Ceremony being a big one: Bands that once were another band doing an old song in the new style. It’s not quite a cover, but also not a “pure” remix. It’s something else. And something worth hunting for.

And hunting… That we do. (Well, did. Modern times kind of made it way too easy to be worth mentioning.)

I have several CDs in my collection that are nothing but remix collections. Most of them official. A few bootlegs. And even a rare few DJ-only pressings.

Because, well, there were a few songs that you could /only/ hear when you hit the dancefloor. They appeared on no album, no compilation, no bootleg. You had to literally suck up to your DJ to get a chance to own them. (In my case? Way too many Rum’n’Cokes send up to his booth. But it also got me the added bonus of being allowed to learn, master and control the light show for a year. Amazing fucking memories. :) )

So, not only were some remixes just damn good tracks, a few were even legitimately rare/limited. Something you only really got from CCGs in this form, to be honest.

But when you went to your regular 2nd hand record shop, and you chanced upon a discarded rare bootleg, or even an ultra rare DJ copy (supposedly from some poor soul having to give up the profession, sadly), you just grabbed it and let the cashier ring it up for you. There was no hesitation. It was a remix!

The early 2000s were kind of the high-point of this. With the quick and furious exchanges between VNV Nation, Covenant, Apoptygma Berzerk, Deine Lakaien, Project Pitchfork, Beborn Beton and many, many others… It was a golden time, of sorts. All those acts at the height of their game, connected by a sprawling, international club- and festival culture and network. They just went to town and scored some of the most memorable tracks of the dacade.

They didn’t let themselves be locked in to their own ideas too much.

Deathstar Disco forever.

Dortmund Rombergpark, 8th of October 2017

Dortmund Rombergpark, 8th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 10th of October / In Strict Confidence – Industrial Love (VNV Nation Remix)

After Wolfsheim and Deine Lakaien, why not continue the electronic slop I’ve found myself on?
Yes. Yes I think I’ll do just that.

It’s weird how the whole of Goth musical sub-culture has become such a wide umbrella for all those disperate styles. Goth Rock and Post-Punk and EBM and Industrial and Goth Metal and Medieval and Ethereal and Industrial-Metal and Deathrock and Batcave…

You see this most starkly whenever you visit a Goth festival that lasts longer than just a day: All those different styles just smashing into each other and flowing together into a dark, black, happy mass in which occasional flashes of colour can be spotted.

And while there are several (some more, some less) stupid internal divisions and stress points (“No neon!”) inside our black family, it really does do run on huge amounts of “You do you.”.

So you can be waving to some nice, naturalistic, ethereal tunes before you start to stomp to some cold, calculated, British EBM.

It’s something I’d never want to give up.

And while I personally very much started into all of this via your bog-standard heavy metal, electronic sounds quickly won me over. Which is not to say that they won an overwhelming victory. My list of favourite songs is heavily mood and situation dependent. And there are enough moods and situations that call for nothings short of a heavy barrage of guitars or soft, muted, analog melodies.

So just like on the dancefloor, I wave between Dead Can Dance, New Order, Spetznas, Depeche Mode, Die Krupps and Nouvelle Vague (and many, many, MANY others!) without hesitation or a second thought during my heavy listening sessions. And when I’m driving? Whoa Nelly, things get REALLY diverse then. (Favourite rush-hour driving song? Ludacris’s “Move Bitch”, easily! … Just… Don’t /ever/ listen to the censored version of that song. There are literal multi-second stretches of silence because of all the censoring. Fucking disgusting.)

Anyway…

Electronic music, be it slow or fast, upbeat or downbeat, heavy or soft. All of it has a place under the Goth umbrella.

…And I really do need to finally write that post about remixes.

Gelsenkirchen Central Station, very early morning, 9th of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Central Station, very early morning, 9th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 9th of October / Deine Lakaien – Kiss The Future

A song from 1999 dealing the 1980s and looking expectantly on to the coming of a new millennium, with the stated hope of having learned lessons well, even after having dome some bad decisions. With the hope of a new decade, century and millennium bringing new viewpoints and new strategies to cope with all the old fears and anxieties and dangers and breaking points.

Well.

That didn’t go too well, did it now?

Things seem to see-saw back into darker, less open times.

It’s not a coincidence that the whole Goth subculture could thrive so damn well in the turbulent 80s. Finding a bit of security and companionship mixed with a healthy dose of playful nihilism is just something I can relate to. (Surprising absolutely no-fucking-one reading this, I think. ;) )

But there are two other reasons why I love that song.
No, wait. Three!

1.) It’s such an amazing Cyberpunk song as well as a goth club hit. It’s very reminiscent of dealing with the Judge Dredd concept of “Future Shock”. Something that most Cyberpunk universes had baked into them from the start, seeing how much of a monolithic thread Japanese Zaibatsu often are portrayed as.

2.) All the damn 80s song/album references. Just pure damn gold for a nerd like me. (“Upstairs at Eric’s | They say ‘Don’t go!'”) It’s also heartwarming, as Veljanov (and probably Horn as well…) is clearly using this song to deal with his own getting older, bringing the memories of his youth into the context of going forward into a new age.

3.) The Polaroid line. Seeing as between the song coming out and me writing this blog entry, Polaroid died, was closed, purchased again and made active and hip again.

What did I say yesterday?

Plus ça change, indeed. ;)

Dortmund downtown, 7th of October 2017 Falling Facades.

Dortmund downtown, 7th of October 2017
Falling Facades.

Gothtober 2017 – 8th of October / Marilyn Manson – Saturnalia.

So.
Hell.
Will you look at that.

A 2017 track that actively evokes 1982.
Mores specifically, here’s Marilyn Manson doing a pretty decent musical Bauhaus séance.

Because Saturnalia has all the markings of being a modern Bela Lugosi’s Dead. And some of the dirty guitar parts and other arrangements through the song (including a few drum solo segments into which a guitar part is inserted) actively reach back and grab some of those nebulous ‘things’ which made Bela Lugosi’s Dead so memorable.

And it sounds really damn good.

I haven’t had time to really listen to Heaven Upside Down yet. Only a quick, cursory listening session during a train ride while I was reading a book. But it was enough to make Saturnalia stand out for me in a good way.

When all your demons die
Even if just one survives
I will still be here to hold you
No matter how cold you are
No matter how cold you are

Does it grip me as hard as some of his lyrics did in the 90s and 00s?
No, sadly not.

But I now understand that hormones actually play a part in this, so this is a sad part of growing older: You literally lose a fraction of the ability to be moved by music as extremely as you are when you’re in your late teens and early 20s. You flat out lack the right hormones and receptors in your brain.

And if I’m honest, this is probably the worst act of aging for me.

But, there are ways to combat this, and I’m doing so.

Actively listening to music. Actively seeking out new music. New genres. New experiences to tie those new sounds to.

Because many people stop being able to appreciate new music, even just new stuff by artists they actually love/like, because of one simple thing: They become too sedentary. They stop experiencing new moments that allow their brains to form those emotional bonds between music and memory and experience and moment.

You will react differently to a song that you hear while sitting at your desk and being mostly subsumed by worry and stress than if you’re out with friends, laughing, flirting, wrenching your heart out.

The less extreme your emotional turbulences get, the less you become able to really “bond” with new music.

You will always remember the song you first made out to.
The song you first fell in love to.
The song your first had sex to.
The song you first had your heart broken to.

You will less likely remember the song you filled your tax forms out to.
You made yet another quick, easy dinner to.
You used to again while away the last few hours on a boring work-day to.

Going to seeing acts live with people you love and likes helps.
Going out dancing and really blowing off steam to music helps.
Doing new and exciting and scary things helps.

So, try to do those things and listen to new music when you do them.
You’ll see an uptick in how much more you’re able to appreciate said music afterwards.

Oh!
An actual P.S. to today’s post:
The shit that made Marilyn Manson such a “shock act” in the 90s?
Lady Gaga now does it on stage and is adored by the mainstream for it.

Plus ça change…

Dortmund, Rombergpark, 8th of October 2017 Something to go along with the Pagan meaning of Saturnalia.

Dortmund, Rombergpart, 8th of October 2017
Something to go along with the Pagan meaning of Saturnalia.

Gothtober 2017 – 7th of October / Wolfsheim – The Sparrows And The Nightingales.

This is s seminal song for the German Synthpop/Futurepop scene.
Not only did it get major radio and TV play when it was new, it continues to be one of the few songs that’s not inside the mainstream but still gets regular play when you listen to the radio after 20:00. At least around here.

But then, the area I live in in Germany (The Rhine-Ruhr Megaplex, as I lovingly call it.) seems to have a slightly more loving relationship with certain forms of alternative music than is the norm. It was not uncommon for me to catch some Deine Lakaien on the radio in the 90s and early 2000s. There were regular post-WGT specials that would dedicate an entire night’s worth of programming to Goth programming. And even now there are regular shows that play off-beat alternative music, both on request and at the DJs discretion.

And so… Wolfsheim and Peter Heppner. Who never gave up the throne when it came to being the Masters of Synthpop up until the whole genre more or less… Sunk. You’ve still get a few Synthpop releases here and there, and Mesh continue to be around, but the heydays Wolfsheim, De/Vision, Melotron and Beborn Beton are gone. Even inside the Goth Club Music umbrella.

The classics still get play, but you very rarely hear something new Synthpoppy on the dancefloor.

This might be related to the small wrinkle that many newer Synthpop artists like, say, Ashbury Heights and Frozen plasma, sound like bad Aqua clones who can’t copy Westbam’s oldest tricks correctly and with much less engaging and much more stupid lyrics (“Your Body is my Wonderland, let me guide you with my hand.” … Go fuck yourself you stupid idiot!). … Yeah, I might have biases.

Anyway.

Wolfsheim.

It was hard to chose a track, as there are so many wonderful ones: Sparrows, Once in a Lifetime, Künstliche Welten, Find You’re Here/Gone, Heroin She Said… Even Kein Zurück. Even though that song STILL hurts when I listen to it, as it came out just after a really hard break-up and during a deeply uncomfortable phase in said break-up. One of the very few songs that managed to make me tear up and/or violently switch the station whenever it came on the radio.

So, up until the very end of the band, they managed to evoke, summon and kindle emotions.

And that’s one of the strongest compliments I can give a musical act.

With this, I’ll submit a picture of that kind of moment that will always have deeply romantic connotations for me: An autumn night, windy, dry, crisply cool but not too cold. Empty streets. Wavering trees. Shimmering lights. Muffled sounds in the distance.

The perfect moment to savour good music.

Gelsenkirchen Erle, very early morning, 7th of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Erle, very early morning, 7th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 6th of October / Fields of the Nephilim – Moonchild

The further I get into this endavour, the more songs I come across which I really do see as “essentials”.
And this one? This one’s another one of those.
You all probably know it by heart.
But I’ll still use it and include it. Deal with it. ;)

And it’s again connected to both the picture and the situation.

Yesterday night was a perfect full moon.
It was a crisp, cold, clear autumn night.
I had the incredible luck to spend time with some friends I hadn’t spent time with for some time.
And we stayed and talked and laughed until 01:00 today.

When I finally got out to head back to my car, the intensity of the moon hit me.
I mean, it really /hit/ me. It was a stark, bright white circle in the pitch black sky.
I can only imagine how it would have looked in the countryside, without widespread light pollution masking all the stars from the sky.

Gelsenkirchen downtown, 6th of October, 2017

Gelsenkirchen downtown, 6th of October, 2017

I actually had to include that shot of the streetlamp into this picture, because without it it looked as if I just held my camera up to the sun. The moon really was that bright.

And so I spent at least one hour just driving around the empty streets of the city and getting out to take a few urbex shots here and there. Trying to frame the mood that was permeating me at the time.

And as with all things ephemeral, it didn’t really work.
I did get quite a few good shots, but… You can’t bottle lightning. And you can’t ever go back to the past.

But you sure as fuck can make sure that you continue to meet friends and bullshit away the nights even when you get older.

And while some might get lost along the way, there’s almost always a chance to reconnect. You just have to reach out and make the effort.

And yes, it will take effort.
It will take time. And energy. And it will not always be easy to slot it neatly into your day.

But, please, DO make the effort.
DO meet friends. Do rebuild emotional connections.

It’s oh so very rewarding.
Emotionally and mentally.

And I really do think that I will have to swallow some depression-induced crow and re-connect with the person who’ll always be the Moonchild to me. Due to a bad depression episode last year I more or less broke off contact in the most cowardly and weaselly way open to me at the time.

I’ll have to say sorry for this, and… Put in effort, energy and time.
And even if it doesn’t pay out, it will still be worth it.
Because some friends you just can’t afford to lose and/or throw away, no matter what your broken brain tells you at some dark moment.

Gothtober 2017 – 5th of October / Clan of Xymox – Jasmin and Rose

Probably one of my favourite Goth Rock tracks around.
A gradual build-up, then the guitar and drums kick in and then the lyrics take you in.

The air tastes just like you, it’s the smell of June.
A sensory shock that jolts my spirit, I slowly swallow you.
A spray of little droplets, a fragrance so refined.
The spirit of nostalgia is passing me by.

It’s a perfect mix of morbid and romantic.
Of sweet memories and the inevitability of loss. Of death.

What was ours will drift away, a simple breeze on a humid day.

Oh, nothing lasts, nothing lasts, forever

And it’s all packed into a nice, upbeat, pumping track that just gets you moving when you’re able to dance to it.

It’s music for autumn.
For driving through streets overflowing with red leaves and raindrops pounding into concrete streets.
For remembering loves long gone and savouring them with a bittersweet smile on your lips.

And so today’s picture is also about duality and themes often found in dark, gothic romances.

Light and Darkness. Darkness and Hope.

The missing church tower is missing on purpose. This particular church was bombed during WW2 and its then bishop decided against re-building the church tower completely, as to always remind all the people in the city about the price of war.

I rarely, if ever, agree with anything the Catholic Church says, does or wants.
But that? That is both a message and a delivery I can get behind.

Gelsenkirchen Buer - Domplatte, 5th of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Buer – Domplatte, 5th of October 2017