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

Gothtober 2017 – 4th of October / Inkubus Sukkubus – Dark Mother (Spook Mix)

Nature and paganism quickly became supporting pillars of the Goth scene, both inside its musical side and outside it. It’s easy to see why, especially during the 90s. The boundaries between a sub-cultural lifestyle and a practiced religion that is outside the accepted ‘norm’ blur.

And when that sub-culture tends to turn towards older cultures and religions for imagery (besides bats, ankhs are probably THE go-to marker of being goth at heart) and lyrics… Well, then, why not share time and emotional connections with all those fine folks dressed in black who neither shame nor ridicule you for your newfound beliefs and practices? Who don’t try to proselytize. Who don’t preach. Who don’t judge.

Who are supportive. Offer support. Act in support.

And so… Well, Pagan Goths became a thing very quickly, and managed to enter the musical side of things as well. Not just in the medieval sub-section of it all, either.

So that’s how I chose today’s musical entry.

Inkubus Sukkubus are a delightful mixture of traditional Goth music, paganism, feminism and a dash of the mystical, morbid and just plain /fun/.

They started in the very early 90s and released their latest album in 2017. Talk about staying power! (And I will, in the future! Because like with Metal and a few other sub-cultures, bands and artists can manage to hang around for /ages/ in this, our small sub-culture.)

Their music is one of my still preferred blends of mysticism and dance music. They are often upbeat but dare to go down a notch or two when warranted. Their lyrics deal with the whole range from sex to death to old gods and all of those things combined. They back their songs with either just acoustic instruments, can go fully electronic and mix those two approaches.

It would be impossible for me to plan anything Goth related without including Inkubus Sukkubus.

So it is in their honour as well, that I chose the motif of today’s picture. And old tree in a park near me. You just /feel/ that it would be perfect for a sacrifice or two…

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Germany, 4th of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Germany, 4th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 3rd of October / Death in June – Runes and Men

So. Here we are. The 3rd of October. The Day of German unity. It’s only fitting to do something… Symbolic here.

Let me post today’s song and image right after each other, and then explain why I chose those two for today.

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Germany, October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Erle, Germany, October 2017

This picture is part of a public steel mural hanging on the outside wall of a local credit union just a few meters away from where I currently live/reside. There are four steel plates showing Gelsenkirchen’s history from the middle ages to about 2000. This is the third plate. What it depicts should be relatively obvious.

So, the Day of German Unity. The day on which the FRG and GDR were made into one country again. … Or so we then thought and hoped. But as with many things, it wasn’t quite that easy. And the very recent federal election showed that this day is still casting deep, dark shadows upon the “unified” Germany.

But, well. The split.
World War 2. The Nazis. Death. Destruction. Genocide. Warcrimes. Industrialized murder. Firestorms.

And then today’s song.
The ever so coy Douglas Pearce. And, by extension, all the other oh so ‘playful’ NeoFolk artists who are ‘above it all’ and don’t think it “necessary” to declare what they personally think about all that dark and oh so transgressive imagery they dress their music, their lyrics and their bodies in.

Walking a very fine line between calling out all the things that led to the rise of the Nazis… And celebrating and promoting it.

The Goth scene and the NeoFolk movement are inexorably linked. Well, perhaps not these days, as both have moved on. But in the 1990s and 2000s? The lines were very blurred. And at times, it was somewhat dangerous.

The rise of the Völkische right-wing, especially in Germany, who are now forming the intellectual and financial spine of the AfD and similar monstrosities, can look at several strains of NeoFolk as their origins. And their nurturing parents.

Ever so slick, ever so courteous, ever so well-read and well-spoken. Ever so impeccably dressed. Ever so /sharp/. That was the typical NeoFolker in those days. And all too often they would turn out to be akin to the Christian Seducing Serpent, putting poison and lies into the minds of people easily swayed and seduced.

While, generally, the local goth scene managed to get through it and remain decidedly anti-Nazi and anti-right-wing, it was not a foregone conclusion. It took organized community effort to combat those ideas.

And it seems that not all sub-cultures, not all mainstream cultures and, most decidedly, not all political and cultural leaders took this effort as seriously as it should have been taken.

The 3rd of October. The Day of German Unity.
This year celebrated in a deeply divided nation.

And find those division across almost all democratic nations.

Never forget.
Never become complacent.
Never stop teaching.
Never stop fighting.

The mistakes and horrors of the past shall never be repeated.

Don’t let yourselves be swayed by emotive language, powerful images and seductively easily answers to hard problems.
Enjoy NeoFolk, by all means. But never, EVER, stop thinking about the horrors those artists harken back to so easily, so carelessly in such highly romanticized words. Always ask yourself if they try to point out the dangers of being seduced by evil thoughts, or if they try to seduce you into falling prey to such a set of evil thoughts by painting the picture of a past they so often describe “better”, “more honourable”, “firmer”, “more decent” and “lost because through treachery”. Even when it never was anything but.

Gothtober 2017 – 2nd of October / Dead Can Dance – Xavier

Let’s not kid ourselves here. I knew I was going to include Dead Can Dance, you knew I was going to include Dead Can Dance, EVERYBODY knew I was going to include Dead Can Dance.

So, let’s get it over with today, instead of putting it off and adding more days in which to agonize over which of their tracks to chose.

Because… It’s Dead Can Dance.
Almost every single track of theirs is perfect October music. Perfect Gothtober music. Perfect autumn music. … I could go on.

Here’s my pick.

Xavier, from Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun. I specifically picked it, because Within The Realm is the album I put in the least time into myself. There’s the amazing Persephone and the great Anywhere Out Of The World as well as the short but extremely powerful Dawn Of The Iconoclasts on it. But, well… It’s not Into The Labyrinth. It’s not Aion. It’s not Spleen And Ideal.

I think that, at least for me, Within The Realm somehow suffers “middle child syndrome”. The raw, initial power of Dead Can Dance/Garden of Arcane Delights and Spleen and Ideal has faded a bit but they did not yet fully enter the refinement that would come with Aion (Black Sun, Fortune Presents Gifts Not According To The Book…) and Into the Labyrinth (The Carnival Is Over, How Fortunate The Man With None…).

So I never really connected with it as much as I should have. But I recently rectified that, and gave each of their albums a proper, dedicated listening session. And Xavier just… It just jumped out at me. It’s a powerful yet playful track. It’s such a dark piece. Yet it also evokes some powerful, striking imagery.

These were the sins of Xavier’s past
Hung like jewels in the forest of veils
Deep in the heart where the mysteries emerge
Eve bears the stigma of original sin

And it ends on such a forlorn, depressing note.

And as the night turns into day
Will the sun illuminate your way
Or will your nightmares come home to stay?
Xavier’s love lies in chains

How could I not go with Xavier for today’s song? It combines the aspect of dark romance, hope and despair into one whole, and so manages to encapsulate one of the many facets that make “Goth” for me.

It also makes me remember a time about 12 years ago, when Dead Can Dance were a significant aspect of bonding between me and a then new friend. Berlin, in the spring of 2005, lying on her couch, her head in my lap and listening to Dead Can Dance. No words between us. Just a long, shared moment between two people who were going through their own bullshit, but managed to find strength and companionship in each other, with that weird mix of romantic and platonic that only exists between really good, close, intimate friends.

Here’s to you, Julia.
I miss you.
I hope we’ll be able to share space together again, in the future.

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 2nd of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 2nd of October 2017

Today’s picture was taken specifically with Dead Can Dance in mind. It’s a view from Gelsenkirchen’s Domplatte, and I tried for something that would evoke the dark grandeur that Dead Can Dance so often manage to create with their music.

Gothtober 2017 – 1st of October / The Cure – Burn

I’ll start of my personal Gothtober Playlist with… Probably my favourite Cure track: Burn.

It was also specifically written for and orignally released on my favourite movie soundtrack: The Crow.

And what a fitting start it is. The Crow, in both its original comic form as well as the first movie, is just pure, distilled, refined and peak-perfect Gothness.

It’s dark, it’s mysterious, it’s mystical, it’s violent, it’s yearning, it’s romantic and it shines a light into the darkness.

Even after all those years, no movie really managed to beat The Crow when it comes to Urban Gothic visuals. Even though Dark City and Matrix both came very close. Both also being two really great movies by themselves. (And the less is said about the sequel movies, the better. They rival Highlander 2 in their horribleness.)

And while this is not the point of this list, I will suggest that you try to get at least one viewing of The Crow done this October. Preferably on a windy, dark night. It’s best enjoyed with friends who want to come along for the ride. Turn off the lights, give everybody a blanket, open the windows, let the gloomy October night in and enjoy one of the most goth movies ever released.

The rest OST for this movie is also just oh so very amazing. Besides “Burn” we also got the amazing NIN Cover of “Dead Souls”, a movie-specific re-recording of “Darkness of Greed”, Medicine re-recording their “Time Baby” and putting Elizabeth Fraser on the vocals and the hauntingly beautiful “It Can’t Rain All The Time” sung and co-written by Jane Siberry. And even when it veers into the violent, you get such gems as Pantera covering Poison’s “The Badge” and going all-out with it.

This is why I picked “Burn” to start this list: Not only is it a perfectly gothic song to begin with (“Oh don’t talk of love.”, the shadows purr | Murmuring me away from you | “Don’t talk of worlds that never were, | the end is all that’s ever true. | There’s nothing you can ever say, | nothing you can ever do…”), a song whose arrangement oozes darkness and dark romance, but it’s also the track taking point on an amazingly goth soundtrack to an amazingly goth movie.

Listen to it.
Listen to the Soundtrack as a whole.
Watch the movie.
Read the comics.

And let Gothober begin.

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1st of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen, Germany, 1st of October 2017