Monday, April 23, 2007

album of the day

Floodland by The Sisters Of Mercy.

The whole Goth thing is a bit of a problem - that whole self-consciousness/wilful ugliness combo, the schizophrenic "look at me"/"don't look at me" thing; my usual attitude is: look, the grownups are trying to talk here - go and put some more eyeliner on. Suspension of disbelief is the key with Goth music. If you can't forget that these are ordinary blokes who live with their Mums and travel to gigs on the bus, then you won't get it. You've got to believe these are some world-weary leather-clad sex overlords who can talk Nietzsche to you while stringing you up in some sort of kinky bondage harness. Or so I like to think anyway.

I bought this album when it first came out in 1987, on the strength of seeing them performing This Corrosion on Top Of The Pops. I've since lost my original CD, but they've just re-released a remastered CD version with a couple of extra tracks on it, and the mighty Fopp had it for a fiver, so it seemed rude not to. It must be at least ten years since I've listened to it.

And you know what? It's pretty good. You get certain features built-in, for free, with any Goth album, specifically, that the songs will be primarily bass and drum-driven, and the vocals will be gravelly and monotonic. To be fair, this probably became a cliché after Andrew Eldritch made it his trademark here. The mighty opening of Dominion/Mother Russia sets the scene, there's a few slower atmospheric numbers like Flood I and Flood II with their watery imagery ("at the head of the river.....dream of the flood.....the water come rushing over"), there's the bouncy, rocky Lucretia My Reflection, which appears to be an ode to bassist Patricia Morrison (though she departed fairly acrimoniously after the album was released), and, most importantly, there's the massive Jim Steinman-produced 11-minute epic, This Corrosion. If you were to describe this as the Goth Bohemian Rhapsody, you wouldn't be far wrong. It is simultaneously an utterly absurd and ludicrous great wedding cake of a song and completely magnificent, with the New York Choral Society wailing away in the background like some Wagnerian Phantom Of The Opera-style undead zombie choir.

Eldritch went on to recruit a whole new band (apart from ever-present cyberdrummer Doktor Avalanche) for the next Sisters album, 1991's Vision Thing, which was much more rocky and guitar-driven, and, as I remember (I've lost the CD of this one too), also pretty good. And that was the last anyone heard of them in terms of official releases, though Eldritch continues to tour under the Sisters Of Mercy banner. Floodland remains their finest hour, though. Listen to it in the dark.

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