10th Record: Bauhaus “In the Flat Field”

FullSizeRender-2I liked Bauhaus okay in high school — I think they hit a cross-section of “mystery” and “other” that made them seem a bit cooler than their music had probably earned. I guess I’m tipping my hand a bit, this listening didn’t really go very well.

I first became aware of the band when I saw the notebook doodling of some older kids and asked them about it. Looking back on those doodles, they were a little weird — I remember a few attempts at the Fang logo, as well as a meticulous recreation of the Bauhaus logo. I just can’t imagine there being a lot of crossover appreciation of the East Bay hardcore band and the British goth pioneers, but there was that day. Anyway, the guy who answered was kind of a brat about it, telling me that if I really wanted to learn about Bauhaus to “read Tom Wolfe’s ‘From Bauhaus to Our House.” So, I did! At least partially, I mean, I figured it must be a cool book and gave it a pretty fair shake (especially considering my then naive understanding of international style and the intentions to impact socioeconomic conditions through its architecture). It took me another decade to realize that the guy who made that recommendation was just being a dillhole.

Anyway, I gave a similar shake to Bauhaus. At some point I had a few albums and 12″ singles, but it appears this is all that’s left a couple decades later. Aside from their monster smash “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” I’m not sure that I really need to hear anything more for the next few decades either. It’s not a knock against goth music in general, there are still a few albums (i.e. the first Sisters of Mercy albums, early Cure, Joy Division, probably a teeny bit more) I actively listen to, but I just don’t find a lot of appeal to the Bauhaus sound. Listening to it now, I can appreciate the wild energy, the chaotic punk leanings on this album that push it more towards Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” than JD’s “Closer,” but the songwriting is just flat and unrewarding. I don’t need a “pop” goth record (though, hey, someone should make one!), but this album is just dirge and crash and not a lot of hook and charm. Not something you’d put on before washing a tub of dishes or anything… I made it through, but I found myself thinking about pruning my record collection while I did. Why not sell albums like this that I’ll likely never put on the player again?

Origin: This is the Italian release of the LP, which helps me pinpoint where I bought it. I bought a lot of music at a tiny not-so-great used LP store in Tucson when I was in high school; a friend worked there, so it was always worth a visit to hear his recommendations and see what he could point me to in the stacks. I’d asked him to tape some Bauhaus tracks for me (which he did, while also nudging me towards better things in that universe, like PiL’s “Second Edition”), so it made sense that he’d let me know that LP had come into the shop. For some reason a lot of the better things I purchased at that store were imports, especially from Italy — I wonder who that Italian connection was that was dumping their early 80s record collection at that tiny store? I’m surprised to hear how clean the LP is, but maybe I didn’t listen to it that much in high school.

Discogs link
Vinyl: VG++
Cover: VG (Some wear to the edges)

 

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