Thursday, October 1, 2015

in the flat field

Bauhaus took their dark delight in escaping the mundane with nervy necromantic ecstasy in the crack contortions of this gothic genesis.  The group formed in Northampton in 1978 with Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins.  They recruited front man Peter Murphy and eventually decided to have Kevin's older brother David J (who had been in The Craze with his brother and Ash) take over for original bassist Chris Barber.  They played their first gig on New Year's Eve of 1978 at the Cromwell pub in Wellingborough.  

They initially called themselves Bauhaus 1919 after the German art movement.  Their first single, the nine-minute opus "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was released eight months later on Small Wonder Records.  The exposure from the single led to a session on John Peel's radio show on BBC and a deal with 4AD Records and a promotional tour.  In June of 1980, the band went into Southern Studios in London to record 'In the Flat Field' with engineer Paul Cook.   The sessions featured Peter Murphy on vocals and guitar;   Daniel Ash on guitar and saxophone;   David J on bass guitar;   and  Kevin Haskins on drums.   The band handled production and sleeve design with the front cover photograph, Homage to Puvis de Chavannes, done by Duane Michals. The album was delayed for nearly a month while the band worked out permission for using the version of "Double Dare" they recorded on John Peel's show in December at BBC Maida Vale Studios.  

Murphy muses:     "When I think back, when we started writing songs in that mobile classroom I knew that I’d made it already.  Daniel and I brought the psychodrama to the band, and I would exorcise a lot of that repressed psychodrama that had been left over from Catholicism.  Personally, I used to really enjoy Mass and the hymns and there was a great contemplation of the Anti-Christ. I really enjoyed it but I also wanted a shag, which is why I went into a band, I guess...My passion, really - which came out in the first album, In The Flat Field - was escaping the flat fields of the mundane; the escape from the working class ghetto of the 'jobs for life' mentally and its forced ignorance. That reflected in the Church’s idea of hierarchical supremacy where the priests would say, 'Listen to me. We mediate between you and God; you just get on with it.' There was a lot of that that came out in the music."

Ash asserts:         "To me, the whole Goth thing is very one dimensional. It’s sort of cloak and dagger. It’s ok, it has its place, it’s fun, but we just find it funny that we’re thought of as that. In the same breath, if you wear black and your first single is “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” you’ve pretty much got a stamp on you. That’s always been one of our strongest songs, so it’s sort of undeniable. I think a lot of it is the imagery, but we never actually spoke about what we looked like when we started out. We never mentioned wearing black, never mentioned makeup or any of it...My personal obsession was to make the band sound like nobody else. If we started working on a song and we’d got to a particular chord change that sounded like pop music or something, or just sounded corny or something we’d heard before, I would deliberately change that and take it somewhere else and do a chord progression or something to make it sound original. Also, I’d use the e-bow a lot, or a drum stick on the strings – anything to avoid sounding like just another rock band.   A big part of the band was to stand out and be something different. I do remember over here when we were first signed up with A&M Records, they couldn’t put us in a category because they didn’t know what we were. They couldn’t put us in rock, or reggae, or pop music; it was just something else, and I personally was chuffed about that. I thought that was great, there wasn’t a category they could put us into. I thought that was an achievement for us."

Despite unfavorable reviews,  'In the Flat Field'  went to the top of the British independent album chart and broke into the pop album chart, peaking at number seventy-two. 

"In The Flat Field"

'In the Flat Field'

full album:

All songs written and composed by Bauhaus (Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J, Kevin Haskins), except as noted. 

1. "Dark Entries" (single version) 3:52
side one of original album
2. "Double Dare"   4:54
3. "In the Flat Field"   5:00
4. "God in an Alcove"   4:08
5. "Dive"   2:13
6. "Spy in the Cab"   4:31
side two of original album
7. "Small Talk Stinks"   3:35
8. "St. Vitus Dance"   3:31
9. "Stigmata Martyr"   3:46
10. "Nerves"   7:06
11. "Telegram Sam" (single version) Marc Bolan 2:11
12. "Rosegarden Funeral of Sores"   John Cale 5:34
13. "Terror Couple Kill Colonel" (single version) 4:21
14. "Scopes"   1:34
15. "Untitled"   1:27
16. "God in an Alcove"   4:09
17. "Crowds"   3:15

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