An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

What is Goth???

First of all, let me remind everyone that I’m giving away a free Cocteau Twins 7” single, the winner to be decided on the weekend of 3rd December 2011. See my last blog entry for details.

This last week or so I’ve been setting up my facebook profile under my alias (an alias I have dragged with me for 17 years now, thanks Mr Kingsley). I keep noticing little arguments and squabbles about the definition of goth, the culture and music. It’s so funny....nothing changes.

I have always admitted to being unashamed of being a goth. But more of a home and slippers goth nowadays. The definition has changed every year for the past nearly 30 years. The music, I think, can never be defined. Probably because the early goth music, the real stuff and not the 2nd, 3rd, 4th set of pretenders, was so diverse. The bands were more defined by the post punks that listened to their music. By the late 80’s goth music in the UK was becoming narrowed in it’s variety. Post punk was going massively out of style and became so “yesterday”. The tag “goth” became more of an insult than a description. The big bands the goths followed at the time, Sisters of Mercy, Mission, Cure, Fields of the Nephilim, All about Eve, Cocteau Twins and Dead can Dance, all hated the term, constantly making a point of refuting even the suggestion that they were goth bands.

By the early nineties, goth in the UK had become a very underground and inward looking scene. Goth had become more about a whole culture than just about music. It was about respecting death and darkness, getting the “meat” out of life, reading literature that dealt with culturally  uncomfortable issues, such as death, deformity, depression, exclusion. It became a feeling more than a simple definition.

Because of this, goth also became elitist. As the culture became inward looking and protective, the music became elitist and inward looking. The vast amount of UK goth bands in the early 90’s were just copycat bands of the big bands of the late eighties. Goth had started as a single step from punk and glam, with a do-it-yourself inventiveness and a daring to try anything in style and direction. It was varied to such a degree that even 30 years on, the older goths still argue over who is inclusive and who is not because of that variation in style. By the late eighties the style got narrowed into a stadium rock direction. The early nineties copycat bands hardened the rock edge to the point that punk and inventiveness had disappeared completely. As some goth bands blended into death metal , anyone wearing black clothes and eyeliner was a goth.

Goth’s downfall has always been it’s elitism. For me, what goth is is defined by a feeling. An attraction to dark romanticism, a real romantic, not just someone after a shag or trying to be better than someone else. Mixed with a spirit of invention and exploration, it is also a deep love and a need to understand and respect the darker and negative aspects of human life. As I define goth this way, I have met very few goths in my life, even though I have supposedly been surrounded by goths for a great portion of it. As I don’t know what is in a persons heart and desires, I cannot say that anyone is not a goth either.

Too many people spend too much time, deciding who around them is goth and who isn’t. Which for me shows a lack of love and respect and adds to the elitist element that has become all too common in the modern goth culture. If you wish to define yourself as a goth then that is part of your relationship with yourself and your own definition of it.

As for the music, to really get an experts definition, the best person on the planet is a journalist called Mick Mercer. The best person to have heard and seen it all and documented every bit of it.

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