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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Inna Di Flat Field

We saw Bauhaus play last night in San Francisco. I was going to do a normal concert review (Peter Murphy looks old, Daniel Ash looks like the evil Bono, the rhythm section is solid as always) but instead I'll take this opportunity to talk about the dubbiness of Bauhaus.

I wish more bands would play dub reggae for goths, but I suspect there is a good reason they do not. If the audience knew that's what was going on, they would probably be horrified. But the dub presence in the music of Bauhaus is undeniable. Sometimes it is right out in the open, as in their 1979 debut single, Bela Lugosi's Dead. This song is straight-up dub: the beat, the pacing, the spacialized delay effects. They did such a good job of making it their own sound that no one notices. Some of their songs feature an even more prominent reggae sound with skanking guitar offbeats, like the In Fear of Dub, Earwax, and Harry sequence off their 1981 Mask album. Their classic She's In Parties off 1983's Burning From The Inside is another fine example, starting off with the regular song, then dissolving in the second half in to a sinister dub version.

But last night, with the drums turned way up and the vocals a bit too quiet, I noticed that a subtle dub feel runs through a lot of their music, mainly due to Kevin Haskins' drumming. He seems to favor a very dub reggae approach, often employing a minimal 4x4 kick with a highly syncopated snare pattern. Maybe I'm mostly hearing this because my ears are attuned to it, but I would not be at all surprised to find a little King Tubby in Mr. Haskins' record collection. The jagged guitar and uber-goth vocals win out over the dub, but it is a constant undercurrent in their songs, shaping that unique Bauhaus sound.



Blogger wayne&wax said...

nice. i like these sorts of sonic excavations. dub's techniques have grown so ubiquitous that they often paradoxically disappear. good to tease them out when you hear them.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Vitriolix said...

This made me go dig around for those songs you mention, i havn't heard them in about 10 years. You are definintely right though, "bela lugosi" is definitely dub in production and beat, the bass and guitar are pure goth though.

as an aside, i was flipping by UPN last night, and coincidentally there was a nightclub scene on smallville that had "bela lugosi's dead" playing in the background, make me laugh.

best goth dub? meat beat manifestro - in dub

9:17 AM  

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