Friday, May 22, 2009
BAUHAUS: THE SKY'S GONE OUT
"The Sky's Gone Out" (1982) is my personal favorite Bauhaus album. Of all four of their major studio works, this is by far the creepiest and most adventurous. It is a unique album. The first half of the disc is more straightforward with some dark and very powerful tracks. There is Brian Eno's driving and repetitive 'Third Uncle" leading the way, followed by the mysterious "Silent Hedges" and the evil sounding bass riff of "In The Night". The intensity of the first half tapers off a bit after these first three songs but that is alright, because nothing can prepare you for what lies in store for the second half.
The greatest part of "The Sky's Gone Out" begins in the middle, with 'The Three Shadows". A gloomy, subtle, three part song that slowly builds in intensity. The guitar riff at the beginning is one of the bleakest I have ever heard. By the time Peter Murphy's sepulchral voice comes in with his surreal and horrific lyrics you will have goosebumps. The increasingly unsettling "The Three Shadows" builds to a maddening crescendo and comes to an abrupt finish, only to be followed by the bitterly mellow acoustic track "All We Ever Wanted Is Everything". Again, surrealism abounds. Then we have "Exquisite Corpse". This is the final track of this disc and it is what really impresses the most.
Exquisite Corpse is a game started by the French surrealists, in which a sentence is started, then passed around to the next player who adds another part to it, and so on. They may or may not know what the previous words were in the sentence. This results in a dreamlike, nonsensical, cut-up approach to language. Anyway, Bauhaus pulls this off perfectly in the form of music with "Exquisite Corpse". The track consists of seemingly unrelated musical snippets that perfectly congeal together as a whole. The mood of this track is composed of feelings you get from listening to all of the tracks before it. It also adds a new and heretofore unheard evil vibe by incorporating some creepy dub reggae to the mix. Bauhaus pulls this off with finesse and without sounding pretentious. In fact, 'The Sky's Gone Out" is the perfect art rock album for this reason. It is what it is.
This is the first Bauhaus album I ever heard. It blew me away. Their other three studio albums might have some stronger songs on them, but as a whole, "The Sky's Gone Out" is a masterpiece. It is designed to be listened to from start to finish and demands your full attention. Listen to it in a darkened room...
Daniel Ash's guitar work and Peter Murphy's vocals are in top form here. Never so macabre, minimalistic and surreal.
By the way, the copy I still have of this is on tape. I found it in a cut-out bin for a dollar. It's a double length cassette, with "The Sky's Gone Out" on one side and their live album "Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape" on the other.
Here's a few tracks from 'The Sky's Gone Out" for your enjoyment. If you've never heard any Bauhaus before and you like your music dark or if you just like your music to be a bit challenging and out of the ordinary pick this one up now. It will not disappoint.
"Terry sat up and held the army surplus bag around his skinny waist. It was cold and the person beside him had faded badly..."