With a recent exploration into the origins of Gothic Rock, Bauhaus's "In The Flat Field" was one I picked up alongside Christian Death's "Only Theater Of Pain" & The Cure's "Boys Don't Cry". It's a Post-Punk record thats been hailed by musicians as a hugely influential one, making them a "bands band" in some regards. The Post-Punk era is a fascinating one, a time of great potential and innovation. Here we can clearly here the origins of new ideas blooming a sound of gloom and darkness arriving with a distinctive clarity of vision. The expression and musical theatrics feel void of experimentation despite that era indicating you could of labeled it "experimental" at the time. This was the groups debut record and they released another three before disbanding in 1983, leaving a short lived legacy behind them.
The record starts with its most bi-polarizing track, "Dark Entries", which starts the record of with a declining single strum note riff that rings out some chords and shifts octaves in between blazing out the dark riff over and over. Theatrical, moody vocal musing don't detract from rocking feel this track delivers, but its far from what the rest of the record offers. As "Double Dare" starts we get a different feel from the same pallet as a submarine ping introduces distorted, fuzzing guitars into a dark, hopeless atmosphere. The guitars play between crumbling drum rolls that rattle in the absence of the distortion. This goes back and forth as Daniel Ash's vocal theatrics embellish like a performer at a play, exaggerating every word. Quickly a dark and paranoid atmosphere is established and explored as the song descends into itself, heightening with Ash's tempering line "I Dare You", performing the "I" over and over. It paints a powerful image of him parading around a set as he performs.
From that point on the album plays out an hour of theatrics, bold, dramatic, audacious and artistic manipulations of sound explore the doom and gloom through screeching guitars, muzzled electronics and big, tom rattling drums. The bass diversifies itself continually with all sorts of fx pedal manipulation. It sounds terrific for an old record, the space and atmosphere is captured finely without a dated feeling. The group utilized what was available and captured there expression timelessly. I have a lot of admiration for this record, but its not one that gets me especially excited. Perhaps they captured the gloom all to well, as these songs plunge into despair they do so artistically, not manipulating it for bombastic effect, but for the art itself. Every moment is intense and gratifying, but tends to stretch on as only a couple of songs change up the pace. Terrific record, was well and truly worth my time.
Favorite Songs: Double Dare, In The Flat Field, Dive, Stigmata Matyr