Reissued Vinyl Album: (Gift)
Original Release Date: 1981 Beggars Banquet
My Rating: (5 Stars)
Hair Of The Dog
The Passion Of Lovers
Of Lillies And Remains
Kick In The Eye
In Fear Of Fear
Muscle In Plastic
The Man With X-Ray Eyes
One of the first things I noticed about the album, “Mask,” by Bauhaus was the summary that was written on the inside cover. It read, “This is for when your sex is full of Voodoo. This is for when your clothes are imaginary. This is for when your flesh creeps and never comes back.” “SOLD!” I thought as I anxiously put the album on my turntable. Honestly, at the time I doubted this record could live up to such a glowing, (or perhaps in Goth speak it would be glowering,) review. However, within the first thirty seconds of the opening song I realized I was about to experience something special. Not only did this intoxicating mix of Goth and Punk fulfill the promise of making my, “flesh creep,” it excited me so much I almost felt like my skin was on fire.
In my opinion the above summary’s nod to Voodoo is an accurate description of the music found on, “Mask.” The whole album possesses a sort of dangerously alluring, “black magic,” vibe that overshadows any weaknesses that may otherwise be present. Despite the fact that this blogger found herself deeply entranced with these songs, I was able to identify some flaws on the album. The main one being I didn’t care for the lead singer’s voice. In fact, I found it to be fairly generic. While the vocalist was clearly passionate about what he was singing, his voice lacked the type of range I would have liked to hear partnered with these compositions. To be totally honest I felt that when the lead singer wasn’t actually singing he was at his best.
An example of this can be found during the magnificent song, “Of Lillies And Remains.” This piece begins with an artsy spoken word introduction that is paired with staccato percussion and random electric guitar picking. The lyrics recited in choppy speech state, “To hide from Peter, who has fallen to the old cold stone floor, wheezing and emitting a seemingly endless flow of ectoplastmic goo from ears and mouth.” Between these obscure lyrics and catchy beats a listener can’t help but feel like doing something crazy like dancing creepily by firelight. Let me repeat that. This band inspires one to dance, simply by spoken word. It’s a confusing but fantastic feat.
Of course the next song continues this theme with the title, “Dancing.” The sounds of this piece create a delightfully out of control feeling through the use of bass lines and abstract horn trills. At the same time Bauhaus is able to display impressive mastery over their music through the use of mimicry and repetition. The singer screams, “Dancing on flick knives, Dancing a stiletto groove, Dancing our nine lives away, Dancing in the Louvreoeoeoeoe….” trilling the last word of this phrase much like the horns that accompany him. It’s subtleties like this that elevate a good band to a great one.
Some of the most accessible songs on the album include, “The Passion Of Lovers,” and, “In Fear Of Fear.” During, “The Passion Of Lovers,” a listener is inspired to participate in the, “sing-song,” chorus. More than once I found myself uttering, “The passion of lovers is for death said she, The passion of lovers is for death.” All the while this addictive verse is combined with what sounds like low monk chanting. Of course, Bauhaus is too interesting of a band to leave it at simply that. Instead they intermix peaceful chants with the sounds of tense guitar jangles. In the end an intense juxtaposition of serene calm mixed with the disturbed is displayed. In addition, this feeling of mainstream accessibility continues during the song, “In Fear Of Fear.” The track begins with a Punk rock introduction that would make any stick in the mud want to fist pump along to the strangeness. Of course, the fact that this is the, “black magic band,” Bauhaus is enough to make a listener a tad paranoid that one’s arm may mysteriously fall off during the process.
Finally, this blogger found the last song on the album to be the most remarkable. The title track, “Mask,” possesses a sludgy, almost pulse-like, beat that conjured images of someone trying to painfully crawl up a mountain. Halfway through the piece this song inconceivably transforms into something seriously beautiful. I use the word inconceivable because I simply don’t understand how Bauhaus does it. I guess its just songs like, “Mask,” that prove that this band is definitely into the dark arts and they’re quickly recruiting.
"The Passion Of Lovers": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNSyfHHRS1s