Gothtober 2017 – 22nd of October / Empyrium – Ode To Melancholy

Beauty in Darkness.

In industrial landscapes.
In terrible weather.
In forsaken buildings.
In decay.
In crumbling facades.

And also in dark and downbeat music, such as with today’s track.

One of the things I also love about autumn days and nights is putting on some really, really dark/depressing/droning music and just walk and drive around the cities near me. About anything by Emyprium. Raison D’être. Lustmord. Quite a few early VNV Nation songs. Vangelis’ Blade Runner OST. Anything else Cyberpunky I have (Mind.in.a.Box, NewRetroWave stuff). All my Dark Ambient stuff.

So, put on some nicely dark tunes, just walk/drive to an industrial or run-down or forsaken area when it’s a grey, shitty day; when it’s raining and when you have some time to kill.

And then… Soak in the atmosphere.

Let the weather, the light, the surroundings and the music all mingle together.

And let your mind wander. Let your thoughts go along the lines that come out of this particular atmosphere. Don’t lead them too much. Don’t try to “actively” think, if you know what I mean. Just let the outside stimuli work on your thoughts.

It can be pretty damn… Interesting.

For me, it often leads to very introspective and at the same time creative moments. I try to have a notebook with me when I do this, as I tend to get really good and creative ideas in those moments. Which tells me that I probably should do those small jaunts more often. But that’s not always feasible. The weather has to be just the /right amount/ of shitty.

Simply raining isn’t enough, for example. It has to be this annoying, soul-sucking, rhine-ruhr-autumn-drizzle. That kind of weather that when you look out the window, you immediately lose a few points of motivation from your motivation pool.

And then I have to be at home, have the time and the opportunity to get out.

But when I can… I do.

And you should too, at least once.
It’s a really interesting experience.

Dortmund Südrfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

Dortmund Südrfriedhof, 14th of October 2017

Gothtober 2017 – 21st of October / The Dreamside – Slow

Today is a slow day, so I chose a slow song.
And picked a picture of a lonely traveller.

I’m writing this entry while suffering from a mild migraine, so it won’t contain significant content.

But I have to force myself to actually put this entry out on the day it’s supposed to be out.
To choose a song.
To choose a picture.
To edit the picture in a way that it complements the song.
And then to write at least a few lines about something that relates to all this.

Because what is a monthly challenge if you abandon it on the first small hurdle?

So for today… The theme is slow. Subdued. Ethereal.

Sometimes you just kind of want to crawl under a blanket, turn off the light and just stay there. Listening to music. Reading a book. Drinking your favourite drink.

Autumn days are almost as good as winter days for that. You can use the gloomier weather to boost your home’s “sacred ground” atmosphere. To huddle up with comforting thoughts, smells and emotions. To feel safe and content.

The worse the weather, the more comforting your retreat feels.

And being part of certain subcultures (of which Goth is one) gives you a nice advantage here: Incense.

If you can brew a nice tea or cup of cocoa, take a good book, a good album and a comfortable and warm blanket and /then/ also light up the perfect incense? You have a nice, relaxing, strength-giving day to look forward to.

Myself… I have to get out of the house shortly after posting this.
To buy some painkillers and visit some friends.

But you can bet that I’ll be doing what I’m writing about now tomorrow.

Gelsenkirchen Central Station, 06:05, 20th of October 2017

Gelsenkirchen Central Station, 06:05, 20th of October 2017

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