Last year, Lifestyle Editor Alison Miller introduced a column called “The Staff Album Sharing Project” to The-Quill. The name essentially says it all. A member of the staff suggests an album – any album – to another member. Said staff member listens to the album and records their thoughts, then picks another staff member to review another album.
As a project, it didn’t get very far before Alison graduated and moved to Philadelphia. But there was an undeniable energy to the idea that deserved us taking it up again. So here we are with the first installment of the second round.
Jessica DeTello is The-Quill‘s reporter covering music and the arts. She’s a music major who’s rarely on campus without her viola. A perfect choice, really, for someone to restart Alison’s excellent series.
In assigning her an album, I initially considered many favorites. In the end it was a tie between this and The Cure’s “Staring at the Sea.” “In the Flat Field,” as it turns out, is a lot easier to get hold of these days. That’s probably OK. While they don’t have nearly the curb appeal of Robert Smith’s timeless band, in terms of influence it’s hard to overstate Bauhaus’ importance. They are the progenitors of gothic rock, and much in modern music can be said to be in their debt. Personally, that influence is just as far reaching. “In the Flat Field” was the name of my abortive, high-school novel. “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” was on near-repeat in my car (fittingly, a West German Passat) for years.
So, without further ado, Jessica’s thoughts . . .
-Sean Gill, Editor-in-Chief
On 1 October 1980, the gothic metal band, Bauhaus, released their album “In the Flat Field.” The album consists of 18 songs. Each is very unique lyrically. However, as the lyrics of each song are very poetical, it can sometimes be difficult to interpret their meanings.
In “Double Dare,” Peter Murphy (lead singer of Bauhaus) challenges his audience to be true to themselves, and to speak out about what they believe in – even if they are speaking by themselves. The song encourages people to be brave, even when being brave can be terrifying.
“I dare you to be real,” Murphy intones, adding later: “I dare you to be proud – to to dare to shout aloud the convictions that you feel, like sound from bells to peal.”
Another great song is “Dive.” This song seems to be about throwing reservations to the wind, being adventurous, living life in the moment, and “diving” into life.
“Terror Couple Kill Colonel” is a somewhat cryptic song. It’s based off of a German-military colonel who was killed after being hit in the jugular vein by a piece of glass during an explosion. According to the song, the colonel was killed in his West German home by a “terror couple” – likely a result of the anti-capitalist terror campaigns that rocked Germany following the second world war.
Utilizing newspaper headline phraseology, Murphy imagines the man’s regret at choosing a military career: “He could have been a doctor in a soft easy chair; instead, he chose to start a territorial affair.”
“A God in an Alcove,” is a calmer piece about a “god” being sent to an “alcove.”
The song begins by describing the god: “Once proud idol remembered in stone aloud/Then on coins his face was mirrored/Take a look it soon hath slithered.”
After this, Murphy explains tells the story of how “they” sent the god”away, to a little alcove. The song doesn’t really get into who is sending the god away, or who the god is, or why the god is being sent away, but this lack of information adds a level of mystery to the song. Some people believe that “A God in an Alcove,” represents the fall of paganism. Paganism being the metaphorical god, bigger religions such as Christianity pushed the “god” away, into a little alcove. Though this is an interesting explanation, there is no definite rationalization for the last verse, “Now I am silly. Now I am silly. Silly, silly, silly, silly silly.” Perhaps the members of Bauhaus were feeling a little silly when they wrote the song? The world may never know. I actually really like this song though. It’s the most fun song on the album.
Still, as a musician, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in “In the Flat Field.” The songs differed in mood, yet somehow they all ended up sounding extremely similar to me. Also, the singing sounded more like chanting than actual singing.
Despite this, “In the Flat Field” is a great album. I think the best thing about it are its lyrics. Though some don’t make much sense, it doesn’t really matter. Lyrics don’t have to make sense to be part of a fantastic album.
Though I don’t listen to many Goth tunes, I’m glad I had the chance to listen to this album. It’s always a great thing to be exposed to different genres of music.