In retrospect: a look back at classic gothic rock band Bauhaus

Category:  Music
Friday, October 18th, 2019 at 11:24 AM
In retrospect: a look back at classic gothic rock band Bauhaus by Rhiannon Pushchak

Of all the post-punk and Gothic rock bands to come out of the ‘80s, Bauhaus still stands as one of the most influential. In October 1981, 38 years ago, the band released the classic album “Mask” on Beggars Banquet Records. With memorable tracks such as “The Passion of Lovers” and “Kick in the Eye,” the album is considered, by many fans of the Gothic rock genre, to be even better than their first, “In The Flat Field,” another staple of the genre.

Another interesting piece of the album is the track “Of Lillies and Remains,” which is a surrealist poem over a wiggly synthesizer and a backtrack that sounds similar to The Clash’s “London Calling” in various places. Other pieces of the album can be compared to early Adam Ant records. Bauhaus is just one of those very special bands where it’s hard to pigeonhole them into one finite genre.

The album utilizes odd instruments and styles, such as saxophones, weird ambient noises, beeps that sound like a radar in a submarine, and funk-like rhythm patterns underneath Peter Murphy’s distinctive, vampire-esque vocals and macabre lyrical content. The guitar work of Daniel Ash on this album is superb, as is David J. Kevin Haskins’ drumming on this record — just as animalistic and hard as it was on their first record.

Bauhaus, as a collective unit, really set their sound in stone with this record, making them one of the most unique bands of the time, while setting the standards for other Gothic rock/post-punk bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Xmal Deutschland, Christian Death, and The Mission, among many others. When someone mentions a Goth album, and you imagine a deep, baritone voice over brooding, grotesque, punching music, Bauhaus is the reason this idea comes to you. They are the ones who perfected the sound of Goth, and “Mask” is one of many examples of that fact.

The album’s influence can be seen in almost every Gothic record to come after, as using strange and unusual imagery over odd and haunting tunes is something a ton of alternative bands use to this day. The similarities can be heard in such groups as Type O Negative, Danzig, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Nine Inch Nails.

“Mask,” in addition to the rest of Bauhaus’ discography, is extremely important in not only dark alternative music, but rock music as a whole, and is a great record to listen to around this time of year. It can be played at any Halloween party as it is morbid and harsh, but still very danceable. The track “Dancing” on the album could very well be making fun of this exact idea. The band is noted for their sense of humor by many people, and it adds to their charm.

Bauhaus is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and they reunited to tour the world with each original member. Will we see more new music from them? We’ll have to wait and see!

Tags: music

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