Gothtober 2017 – 20th of October / Haggard – Awaking the Centuries

My favourite part of starting out into all the Gothness was starting to learn about past literature and history.

I was fifteen/sixteen back then, and the people who introduced me to the larger scene were a few years older. So it was easy for me to the quickly get books and novels from them. And so I started reading old poetry, old novels and started focusing my already unhealthy obsession with history towards a few specific eras: The Late Medieval and early Renaissance. Edwardian and Victorian Britain. And the dissolution of the Roman Empire.

The context of Christianity as a cultural, societal and military rise, influence and dominator over Europe.

Its iconography, its history, its internal divisions and its internal changes.

This might have had a bit to do with the fact that my proper first initiation was very closely tied to a Vampire: The Dark Ages chronicle I was invited to, as well as its accompanying LARP near me.

Back then, it was not enough for me to just /play/. I had to /know/. To /understand/.

I’ve tried to keep this trait alive as much as I could over the following 18 years. I don’t have summer vacations spanning several weeks nowadays, so I can’t read as much as I’d like to.

But modern technology did help me out here a lot: I’ve started to acquire more and more history books as ebooks now, and can squeeze in more reading during my daily commute.

So, yes. Becoming Goth and a roleplayer (both were very tightly intertwined, to be honest) were both positive influences for me, as they both pushed me to read more and more about history, art, culture and sociology. As well as pushing me towards taking English seriously and not let it wither.

But, yeah. Goth and Goth-aligned RPGs really formed me in my formative years. For the better.

Because of this, medieval goth will always retain a few places in my collection of favourites. Even though it seems to have mostly died off, with bands either dissolving or abandoning the concept.

But, well, as I said yesterday…

C’est la vie.

Dortmund Südfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

Dortmund Südfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 19th of October / Xmal Deutschland – Mondlicht

German goth royalty.
Which ended in a pretty French way, even though it was a self-inflicted decapitation that did them in.

If you start out strong in one genre, and continue to grow in both skill and appreciation in said genre, don’t be surprised that, when you then suddenly change genre and style in a 180° turn, you basically… Sie.

Which is what happened to Xmal Deutschland in the later 80s.

C’est la vie.

This project strongly reminded me that I really like autumn.
It’s warm at times, often windy, everything smells nice, you get a nice mix between sunlight and moonlight.

And when you get up and out at around 05:00 you get peak “perfect morning” experiences, as you start your journey to work in a deep night, and get to experience sunrise and light-change and the waking of the city.

Going out when almost every window is dark and nobody is on the streets and then starting to see more and more people and cars and lights and live and chaos… It’s glorious. It helps me to wake up myself. Just taking it all in.

Music in my ears, notebook (or a notebook app) in my hands and my eyes and mind wandering all around: People, faces, postures. The movement and dance of cars and trains. Shadows appearing and growing large and then small again. The sun sliding from the east into its ever shorter and shorter southern zenith. Clouds changing colour and texture. Stark blues and whites giving way to reds and oranges. (…It’s weird to use this pluralization for the colour and not the fruit…)

And then, later in the day, you get to see it all in reverse. With beautiful pastel colours changing into those lovely, stark whites and blues. And then the sky goes dark, but the city goes bright.

People still drive and walk and shop and laugh.

And it’s… Glorious.

And you can wear your favourite hoodie, perhaps a scarf too if it’s colder than usual, and just walk in what is basically a cool-but-not-cold active night.

Even when it rains, it’s beautiful, with electrical light mirroring itself in rain-slick surfaces.

The only autumn weather that really /sucks/ is the weather when the sky is a gray, overcast mess of total /nothing/.

But when it’s warm or cool, windy or not, dry or wet… When you can feel the air on your face and smell the smell of nature lying itself to rest…

And perhaps spot a Murder of Jackdaws in a treeline?

That’s peak Goth.
That’s why Gothtober is a thing, really.
Because it’s beautiful and emotional and embodies the change into darkness from light without smothering you in it.

Autumn makes me happy.

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Very Early (Foggy) Morning, 18th of October, 2017

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Very Early (Foggy) Morning, 18th of October, 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 18th of October / Anne Clark – Poem Without Words 2 – Journey by Night

I also love purely instrumental tracks. I don’t know if it’s because I like classical music or if I like classical music because of my live for instrumental tracks.

There’s something amazing about being able to evoke emotions and stories with nothing but instruments.

In modern music, the focus drifted so much onto the lead singer that several genres have tried, more or less successfully, to make the accompanying music to nothing more but background fluff.

{Tangent: Before anybody even has the option to start: This is NOT a diss of electronic music. There are more than enough electronic artists out there, spanning all eras, who haved shown that even fully digital music can be stirring and requires skill and talent to master. Tangerine Dream. Vangelis. Jean-Michel Jarre (Even with all his other failings…). To name but a few. I’m simply against cheap, heart- and thoughtless musical productions.}

Even in alternative genres, there’s a hyperfocus on singers (Marilyn Mansound would be worth /shit/ without Twiggy…) or lead-instrumentalists. Forgetting that that the band is a whole. That without even one of them, they would be diminished.

Which is not to say that vocalists are worth any less! Quite the contrary. But they can only fulfill their whole potential with a band that complements them. Supports them. Is supported by them.

i think that the best case to be made for this is Tarja and Nightwish. After she was kicked out, both her and the band continued to produce music. But, well, Tarja’s voice alone wasn’t a hit maker. Neither were Nightwish with a swapped singer.

ogether they had truly been more than just the sum of all parts.

I kind of lost my own point somewhere above. Sorry.

But it is a simple one: Try to listen to purely instrumental music of your choice from time to time. Enjoy and savour your favourite genre with the focus not on one part of the band, but ths music itself.

Let yourself hear and feel the beat and the groove and the flow. And consciously try to focus and identify all those musical hooks that you like most when you hear them in a song. it will help you to better understand why you like it. And this will make it easier to find new stuff to listen to, perhaps even outside your genre comfort zone.

Addendum: This post was 100% created on a mobile phone. I took the picture on my phone. Edited it on my phone. Used my phone to upload it to my server. Used my phone to write this entry (So please excuse any weird typos!). Listened to a dozen songs and picked this one while riding the bus. And then fit it all together and published it with the wordpress app. Besides a few infuriating limitations in the Spotify and WordPress apps, it was both easy and quick.

We’re truly in the all-connected, super-digital future now.

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Very Early (foggy) Morning, 18th of October, 2017

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Very Early (foggy) Morning, 18th of October, 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 17th of October / Mind.in.a.box – Glory Days

I wanted to put Amnesia in here. I really, really did.
Amnesia is an amazing song. One of my many, many favourites.

But. BUT!

I’ve put in enough old and older and ageing songs already.
It’s time to go for something newer.

And will you look at that, the sixth chapter in the Dreamweb saga has just been released! And I do mean /just/. On the 13th of October 2017, to be exact.

And it’s amazing.

The whole saga is a really beautiful thing. Six albums telling a story. Started in 2004, it continues until today.

Concept albums have always fascinated me. The very first one I was consciously subjected to, was when my dear Moonchild told me to listen to “Be” by Pain of Salvation. … Yeah, I managed to miss Avantasia and a few other things before. I still don’t know how. (I mean, I knew /of/ Avantasia, but I wasn’t particularly into concept-album stuff back then. Apart from possibly Prog Rock, if that counts. Which it might. I don’t know. Prog makes things kind of… Hazy.)

Anyway: Storytelling.

Many songs that I call favourites are very story-heavy. Not simply consisting of stanzas and choruses, but also containing changing patterns that mimic the flow of the story.;

And also having time to breathe and expand and develop. By now you’ve probably realized that I have a very slight penchant for longer songs. Barely noticeable I’m sure.

But those long songs, with or without lyrics, give me something I deeply enjoy: The ability to dive into and fully lose myself in a song. And so I’m drawn to the genres that offer such fare: Many goth sub-genres, Prog of all kinds, many forms of Metal, Blues, Jazz, classical and neo-classical music, all forms of ambient and even quite a few Rap and Hip-Hop offerings.

I simply love bonding with music, for lack of a clearer explanation.

And so one day I stumbled upon Mind.in.a.box: A dark, synth, cyberpunk concept /act/.

I simply couldn’t resist.

From this day onward, Mind.in.a.box always were a part of playlists meant to go with Shadowrun and Mage.

It’s just a perfect fit.

It’s also a perfect fit for walking and driving through urban autumn scapes. And thus: Perfect Gothtober material.

Dortmund Hombruch, 14th of October, 2017

Dortmund Hombruch, 14th of October, 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 16th of October / No More – Suicide Commando

Let’s do the time-warp again…!

Yeah. Man, that’s an old song.
And not one that would have been grouped under the (back then not even established) Goth umbrella.

But it didn’t just inspire a few mad Belgians’ band name, with its international success it paved the way for Darkwave to evolve. While it itself was firmly grounded in the (sadly only briefly existing, kind of like the Trip-Hop of its time…) No-Wave post-punk, coldwave inspired genre, the sound and style it created were quickly incooperated into later Darkwave acts. (Anne Clark’s “Changing Places” is a good example. Sleeper in Metropolis, All Night Party, Lover’s Audition and Wallies are goth classics themselves.)

It was also made in the time where electronic music of all kinds was breaking new ground. There was no Industrial, no Techno, no EBM, no Hardcore… It was all new and exciting and fresh and experimental.

Throbbing Gristle were still the new shit. Nitzer/Ebb were yet to release their first record.

And the audiences for both were bound to be way less Goth than today.

Early ‘alternative’ electronic music was its own umbrella terms. Only when the 90s came around and lines began to harden, did some acts find suddenly being part of a wholly different genre. While some (like DJ Hell, The Hacker and Ellen Alien) straddled the line for quite some time, many did chose between varying shades of darkness. Some went Goth and started to form the backbones of the EBM/Industrial (which spawned Futurepop/Synthpop as synthesis between harsher EBM and softer Darwkave) scene. Some went “Techno” (and would later split into all the varying styles, from Hardcore to Trance to Acid and Jungle and Goa and, and, and…).

And some, the darkest of them all, went full-on pop. It was only those last few that would turn their backs on experimentation and collaboration in total.

Then, later, in the early 2000s, Techno and EBM/Industrial would meet again and birth the (dreadfully named, and often dreadfully blunt) ‘Hellectro’ genre which would open up a small and still smoldering civil war inside European Goth culture. (It’s 2017 now. And we’ve still got “No Neon!” dresscodes as a lingering result from that debacle.)

Musical Genres are a weird thing.

Make them too general and they loose all meaning. (Goth. Metal. Techno. Electro. Classical. Apart from the most base similarities, you could pick two bands out of any one of those ‘genres’ and get two bands that are worlds apart.)

Make them too specific, and it becomes unwieldy, hard to categorize and harder to monetize. So many big publications as well as all major labels frown on something like “Post-millennium Electroclash Punk”. Which, while specific, is hard to put under a meaningless and shallow ‘review’. (Mia.’s “Hieb und Stichfest”, by the way. To this day one of my most beloved albums.)

Bands also shift and morph between them, seldom staying firmly inside one. (Compare Svbway to Sally 1994 vs. Svbway to Sally 1996 vs. Svbway to Sally 2003 vs. Svbway to Sally 2014…)

Although, of course, there are exceptions.

Neither approach to musical progress is the ‘right’ one.
And it’s also okay for fans of a band to ‘drop’ them if they develop into a style those fans don’t like any more. As long as they aren’t fucking assholes about it and try to ruin it for those who actually enjoy the new direction.

Progress in perfecting your skills and abilities is good.
Progress in evolving your skills and abilities into something else is good.

If not for those two things, they sounds you like now, liked before and will like in the future would never have come to exist.

Only standing still and stagnating is bad.

Dortmund, Südfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

Dortmund, Südfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

I promise that tomorrow’s track will be a new one. ;)
A REALLY new one. So people younger than 40 can actually appreciate this collection as well. :D Continue reading

Gothtober 2017 – 15th of October / Apoptygma Berzerk – Until The End Of The World

Goths do many things.

Goth is not just music, Goth is also fashion and lifestyle and literature and visual art and worldview and style.

Sometimes it’s subdued, other times it’s transgressive.
Sometimes it’s macabre, other times it’s romantic.
Sometimes it’s angry, other times it’s gentle.

But almost always, it combines more than one thing into itself.

Take this track. It’s sugary-sweet, electro-pop, dancefloor-filler with hopeless, depressing lyrics about a dead (figuratively or literal, that’s for the listener to decide) romance.

It’s a modern, more party-focused version of something Tears For Fears did with “Mad World” back in the day. Which is why for me the Gary Jules cover fell flat on its face when it released: Oh, look. A sad song with sad lyrics and sad instrumentals. How… Interesting. *yawns*

And while “happy music with sad lyrics” isn’t superbly original either, it’s at least /slightly/ more engaging. And it links into the whole “dance on the ashes of a burning world” that I love about some strains of Goth: The kind of abstract nihilism in which you acknowledge that things are fucked up and unlikely to get better, but you don’t actually give up inside. You stay alive. You keep grinning, laughing, dancing. To dark humour, yes. But it’s a way of keeping active. Keeping alive. And continuing to do the small, human doses of good you yourself can administer.

Helping out an elderly neighbour.
Volunteering at a local social center.
Being there for friends when they’re down in the shit.
Giving your last few {insert local unit of currency} to a homeless person to make their day a minimal amount less shitty and horrifying.

Random, small acts of kindness.
They won’t heal the world, but they will make somebody’s day a little bit brighter.

And even if you yourself are stuck in a dead-end job, have financial difficulties, struggle to keep up against your depression, are on the brink of flunking out of university… You still do those acts.

And come the weekend, you put some effort into your outfit, you drive to your favourite club, you meet your friends, you hug and you laugh and you grin and you start dancing. While the world continues to crumble. But you don’t give up.

You keep going until the end.
Because giving up is no way out.
And even a weak smile from a random stranger is worth a lot.

That’s always been a big part of my personal goth experience: Life might /suck/ but you’d always have friends around. You’d always have the club. You’d always have the moral integrity to do the right thin, even though things aren’t perfect for yourself.

That’s why Mage: the Ascension Revised Edition resonated positively with me, even though I still also continued to love 2nd Editions big-picture: The way the Mages left on Earth were depicted, the way the artwork and the text meshed… It struck home. You were now cut off from the most powerful allies, your enemies were on the rise and things were looking fucking /bleak/. But you would not give up. You would not surrender. You would look after your friends, your street, your city and your life. You would keep on going. Fighting. Doing the right thing. And you’d savour every win, no matter how small.

Because even those small victories are important. Not just to you, but also to those they affect positively.

I always loved that.
I always tried to live that.

And being part of the local Goth culture helped me a lot, since the first day I entered it, all those years ago.

Dortmund Hombruch, late evening, 14th of October, 2017

Dortmund Hombruch, late evening, 14th of October, 2017

P.S.
And yes, this song is a slight nod to the post about “many genres under one umbrella” I made a few days ago. Because it’s just one pitch-shift and a base-drum away from being a former Mayday anthem. ;)

Gothtober 2017 – 14th of October / The Sisters of Mercy – Temple of Love (Extended 1992 Version)

I almost couldn’t decide upon which song to use today.

So I went for another “Must Have”, iconic, goth song.

(Also, for another remix/alternate version, because when I latch on to a theme, I tend to keep chewing on it. ;) )

So.

Andrew Eldritch.

Goth icon.
Magnificent bastard.
Utter asshole.

Here we have a guy whose vocals and lyrics are an undeniable part of Goth culture. Not only Temple of Love.

This Corrosion. Dominion. Alice. Lucretia My Reflection. The Floods. Driven Like The Snow. Black Planet. Marian. Body Electric.
Even the super-short “Never Land – A Fragment” (I would, by the way, kill to have a full song or two made in the style and tune of that song).

So, we have this guy.

We also have him and the band being regular guests and M’era Luna and WGT and Amphi Festival since 2012.
And touring regularly. Like, well, fucking YEARLY. For over two decades now.

I mean…

Whilst the band enjoys a considerable fan base with overlapping interests in so-called dark culture, the Sisters of Mercy consider themselves first and foremost a rock band. They have discouraged their association with “goth” via regular public statements in the press, and stipulations in their standard contract riders. Nevertheless, this has not stopped them from regularly appearing at festivals where this music is featured, such as M’era Luna.

We have this guy.

And then we also have him, to this day, deny any link to Goth culture, and decrying his own fans.

The less is said about his petty treatment of band mates, the better.

So, this asshole.

But then we also have his story of how he got out of the deal with EastWest (A Division of TimeWarner™).
Let me just quote Wikipedia here, because there is no need to embellish anything.

In 1997 Eldritch produced the SSV album Go Figure, featuring his vocals over drumless electronic music. The album finally freed him from his contractual obligations, as EastWest agreed to waive their claims for two more Sisters of Mercy albums in exchange for the recordings. The SSV tracks were, however, never officially released. The full name of the band is SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW, said to be an acronym for “Screw Shareholder Value – Not So Much A Band As Another Opportunity To Waste Money on Drugs And Ammunition Courtesy of the Idiots at Time Warner”.

&

In late 1997, the contract with EastWest was terminated, after the company agreed to accept material recorded under the SSV name instead of two albums for which the Sisters of Mercy had contractual obligations. The company agreed to accept the material (techno-like droning featuring mumbling vocals by Andrew Eldritch, without drums) without listening to it first. The recordings were never officially released and circulated only through pirate MP3s.

And we also have him calling his Drum Machine “Doktor Avalanche”. Because… Of course!

So, this magnificent bastard.

People are complicated.
And Eldritch is no exception.

Despite his weird insistence of not being Goth, he very much is.

Not only is he part of Goth history, he is almost a kind of Unknown Armies like self-destructive Avatar Of Goth.
He personifies several aspects, both good (persistence, style) and bad (utterly unable to take a fucking joke or take things lightly), as well as almost nobody else.

Happy Friday the 13th everybody.
Go out tonight, do something cool.
And that can be whatever is cool to you.
Just… Try to do it outside, at night.
Write. Read a book. Draw something. Watch the stars. Dance. Meet friends. Drive without a target. Listen to music.
Just… Do it outside. Soak in the atmosphere. Forget the daily grind.

Don’t become… This guy:

Speculation about a new release was renewed in November 2016 when Eldritch was quoted by TeamRock website: “I can tell you one thing: If Donald Trump actually does become President, that will be reason enough for me to release another album. I don’t think I could keep quiet if that happened.”

As yet, no new album has been released since Trump took office.

Düsseldorf Medienhafen, Early Morning, 12th of October, 2017

Düsseldorf Medienhafen, Early Morning, 12th of October, 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 13th of October / Type 0 Negative – Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)

October the 13th.
Friday the 13th.
Goth-Fucking-Tober deluxe, baby.

And as you can hear, I did not got wih Bela Lugosi’s Dead.

I could have.
I really wanted to.
But it would have been too easy. Too on the nose.
(Also, it’s not a “birth of goth” playlist, so I have /some/ leeway in choosing song.)

Instead I chose a 11 minute long monstrosity of a song that’s just perfect for the intersection of Friday the 13th and this little project.

It’s dark. It’s cheesy. It’s self-referential. It’s brooding. It’s erotic. It’s funny as hell.

It is the platonic ideal of something Goths should always remember: There IS a life outside Goth. Especially when it comes to humour and levity. And with some people in the 90s… Yeah. That was a thing that needed to be addressed.

It’s basically the anti-Eldritch song.

Whenver I go out dancing, hearing the opening riff never fails to put a huge grin on my face and lure back on the dancefloor. No matter how tired. (And when you’re in a cool club, with cool people, you will also experience a dancefloor full of goths doing the Addams-Family-Snap in synchronized unison, while dancing, which is always a fucking /blast/!)

You can sway to it, you can dance to it, you can headbang to it, you can even mosh to it, if you so desire. A proper multi-purpose song.

Like with so many other songs on here, I have host of memories connected to Black No.1.

Some romantic, some sexual, some platonic, some simply hilarious.

When I still had a car with a MP3-CD capable sound system, I would be creating new playlist-CDs for driving on a weekly basis.
“Driving to Uni”, “Driving to work”, “Driving to the Club”, “Night-driving”, “Rain-driving”, “Night-Rain-driving”… It got pretty fucking ridiculous pretty damn quickly. I still own most of them. I should recreate them on Spotify. … Yeah. When I ever should feel the most soul crushing boredom on a day with literally nothing else to do.

Anyway… 2004/2005 I had a semi-blind date. How I got to it is another comedy of errors, but that’s for another post. What’s important is that I made a CD for said date, as it involved picking her up and driving to my then favourite club. (The “Saint”). I had met her once before, and we would meet a mutual friend there, so it wasn’t as awkward as it might have been.

But still… Back then, dates were still slightly anxiety creating affairs for me. So I was a bit mumbly and awkward and the drive quickly descended into the kind of awkward silence that only awkward dates can create. A kind of black hole where hope goes to die. Every moment in it, you just think: “Well, shit. I’ll never see her again after this…”

And then, Black No.1 came on.

And she started smiling.
So I turned up the volume, and opened up the driver’s side window.

And then… She started singing along. Happily. Which made me join in as well, in a pretty subdued manner.

And THEN, several minutes in, came the “Was like fucking the dead” part.
And when that part came along, she turned to me, grinned, looked me in the eye, and said it with such force and commitment, that I was stunned for a few moments. When I recovered I just grinned back. And we continued singing.

After the song ended, we proceeded to talk like normal human beings. We joked, we asked questions, we had fun.
We continued to have fun at the club, and I was invited to drive her back home.

We saw each other again. And while it developed into a really intense affair with a few “That shit only happens in movies…” moments, it never became a relationship. But it became a truly wonderful friendship with trust, long talks and sessions of music-backed cuddling and silence. So, well, the /best/ kind of friendship.

Happy Friday the 13th to all of you out there!
Go hug a friend. :)

Düsseldorf Völklinger Straße Station, Morning of October 11th, 2017

Düsseldorf Völklinger Straße Station, Morning of October 11th, 2017