EVERY MASK TELLS THE TRUTH
The jaw is fundamentally designed to open and close, and sometimes that can be frighteningly wide, like baboons but although humans can’t quite match that it is still possible to open the mouth into an oval or circular shape. Strange, then, that certain Goth singer find it impossible. Like a roughly hewn, home-made letter box their mouths creak open, forcing the singer to adopt a tightly clenched throat and squirt out the constipated words. It worked for Rozz Williams, and was largely inspired by Peter Murphy, with this secretive tradition passed on to today, as though it were a Masonic ritual. Chants Of Maldoror are believers, and so much of their material is kept flattened and drone-like beneath the flat, intensely oblique vocals. And from that comes quiet intensity.
‘Himmel Balsam’ kicks off as the Bauhaus variety with delicate dramatics, then they boot ‘Wounded Canvas’ about, like an ‘Only Theater Of Pain’ outtake, which will always sound okay. Oily guitar floods over marble bass, and the vocals dance across the surface like drunken flies. ‘Interlude I’ is prettier because the rickety Murphyisms (think ‘Spy In A Cab’ for the sound we’re talking about) are settled, leaving the synth to flutter and charm, and with spoken vocals also standing nobly by they create a faltering, delicate atmospheric piece. When this approach is simply dispensed with, as in the roving, high-stepping prettiness of ‘Cruel With Us’ with normal, plaintive vocals we have light Goth pop with intricate strands making it distinctive and desirable.
Glittering old-style Goth guitar clothes the pained ‘Where The Lord Lies’ as discreet percussion tries to sneak beneath its dusty dress. Murphy peeks from under the hem again but they beat happily on until it’s all like rotting musical fruit with an acceptable squishy feel. ‘Sometimes A Poison’ lollops and cavorts in a drunken embrace as the beat demands, like a perverted polka. ‘Interlude II’ operates as a gentle instrumental oasis before ‘Justine’ does another Rozz fandango, with a nippy velveteen caress and clever dips. Fiercer frolics battle through the squeaky ‘A White Holocaust’ and the reflective ‘Of The Willings’ lays back elegantly consumptive and wails feebly, mooching into ‘Interlude III’ that seeps onto a plumply engaging and wonderfully fluffy ‘We Stand Alone’.
think for a minute I believe their take on an established style in any way
demeans their work, because the fact it’s a style means it is relevant.
It just makes it harder to get inside past familiar notions. Once you locate
them it’s not a problem and you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.