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

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.