Automated Autonomy



Much like the Jon Hassel/Brian Eno story mentioned in an earlier post, my first exposure to Bauhaus was caged in anonymity. A friend gave me a homemade cassette tape with no labeling of any kind, only telling me that the music on the tape was part of some larger theatrical performance. For over a year I would listen to this cassette, which was really low-fi, and wonder what the heck these guys were doing. The music was dark and edgy, but somehow graceful as well. It was obvious they were really talented, and knowing nothing about them added to the mystique. The album I was listening to, I later found out, was “Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape,” which was recorded live in England. A while later I saw the video footage from the concert, which completed the picture. While it wasn’t a play they were putting on per se, they were indeed very theatrical. 

Bauhaus began their musical career together in 1978, and within 6 weeks cut their first record. On that record was the 9 minute + song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which essentially spawned the Goth music genre. Contradictory to popular belief, however, Bauhaus is not a Goth band. Yes, they essentially created the genre, but their music is anything but Goth; it’s art.  The original Bauhaus was an art movement centered in Berlin during the early 1900’s, but with the rise of Hitler, the school shut down. The art of the Bauhaus movement shares many commonalities with the music of Bauhaus the band: angular, simplistic individually, complicated when combined. On a larger scale, each of their five original records sound completely different from one another, yet when put together create a complex musical tapestry. 

One could even take this idea further. When Bauhaus broke up in 1983, it spawned no less than 6 new bands, including Peter Murphy’s solo career, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets. It’s now almost 2008 and Bauhaus has reunited. The proof that these guys are not Goth can be found in the multitude of records they’ve put out—all of them different, all of them artful, and just about all of them great. 

Bauhaus is one of those cases in which I own everything they’ve put out, and then some. I have interviews that I’ve taped off the radio, concerts, photos, and even tattoos. The music of Bauhaus was instrumental in the discovery of me, and although I don’t play them much anymore, they are one of the most important bands in my life.

This clip was taken from a British t.v. show back in 1982, and I think nicely exemplifies the artistic prowess of Bauhaus.


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