Thursday, December 22, 2005

Shadow of Light/Archive

Posted on Thu, Dec 22, 2005 at 4:00 AM

Shadow of Light/Archive
Label: Beggars Banquet DVD
Rated: NONE
WorkNameSort: Shadow of Light/Archive

As one of those unfortunate bands whose legacy was permanently altered by the fashion-conscious myth-making of fans who never actually saw the band perform (see also: Misfits, Velvet Underground, Nirvana), Bauhaus has been misunderstood for more years than they were extant. Judging by the kids sporting Bauhaus shirts – of which there are likely more purchased annually than Bauhaus CDs – you'd be forgiven for thinking that the group was nothing more than some self-involved poufs who fancied themselves as "dark" or (even better) "vampiric." It's been said before, but allow me to say it again: bullshit. Bauhaus was a classic British punk band that turned the glam sound of its idols – Marc Bolan and David Bowie – into some inverse monster of nervous energy. All swagger and bad drugs, the scariest song in the band's entire ouevre wasn't about Bela Lugosi or stigmatas, it was "Terror Couple Kill Colonel," a shivering mess of intensity that was about … hell, I still have no idea what it was about. And that was sort of Bauhaus' point; they declined being obvious in favor of being oppressive. Accordingly, this DVD reissue of two long-out-of-print VHS videos isn't spooky, it's intimidating. Shadow of Light is a compilation of nine promo videos, while Archive is a feedback-laced live show from 1982 that's incandescently intense. This was a band that thrived on the electricity of a live performance, and their early energy was raw, aggressively self-important and pretty damned punk rock. The video clips on Archive are split between menacing live footage and low-budget genius that's both alarmingly pretentious and surprisingly effective. For a group whose late-coming (and still-coming) followers seem obsessed with nothing more than image, this excellent, long-overdue reissue proves that Bauhaus cared a lot less about their haircuts than they did about unleashing a raw, sensory assault on your precious goth ass.

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