There exists a world where music and its attendant culture is banal, its citizens bereft of wit, humour and independent intellectual innovation. A world of exhumed tropes and styles, passionless drones interfacing with screens, a world of weedy, reedy saps strumming about dead dogs and mislaid phones. Grim place, yeah? It doesn’t have to be this way because the enlightened plane has Andrew Eldritch and the Sisters of Mercy. Avatar of art and intellectual love god flanked by two guitarists and the drum machine. Sparse, spartan and spectacular.
In this post-ironic, end of days culture-dirge epoch some bands wander by mistake. Eldritch is the eternal brooding mystery, the enigma laconically strolling round the stage dressed like he’s just returned from the arboreal climes of ‘Nam, the apocalypse of now and then’s Colonel Kurtz, battle-scarred and memory-worn. His public remain on the precipice, by playing so infrequently he only intensifies the intrigue and desire for MORE. The road of excess leads to the palace of sub-culture vultures. There are many.
For the last f*ckin’ time, I’m NOT Gary Glitter!
Transcending categories, labels and definition, Sisters are the last form of symbolic resistance, they will not be recuperated, they will continually defy the norms, this is style without bricolage, only … come on, you’ve read this far and the word ‘goth’ is on the tip of your tongue, at the forefront of your brain, a catch-all term for all things black. All things gloomy. Snakebite and patchouli. All things introspective. Lazy, lazy, lazy. This isn’t the aforementioned world remember, this is enlightenment. Read on.
Purveyors of down-bracing dance music, cerebrally appealing art that stimulates, that challenges, forces you to question AND think, a singular action that’s a cardinal sin amongst some ‘acts’, the dross that engulfs existence like the face-hugging alien in … erm … Alien, the succubus that feeds off the mediocre and proffers the dreary in recompense. Lose-lose.
‘Vision Thing’s ‘motherfucker in a motorcade’ is either a barbed comment at those representatives of (all) organised religions and its earthly emissaries or the assassination of JFK plus a take on Bush père’s ‘Vision Thing’ comment regarding his perceived lack of an understanding in taking over the reins of Uncle Sam Corp. Just do what THEY say, George. The sound of the New World Order in under five minutes.
1982’s still electrifying ‘Alice’, inspired by Go ask Alice’s titular drug fiend, an anonymous diary warning of the perils of drug addiction and promiscuity as means of averting reality leading to spiritual decline and ultimate demise.
The songs keep coming with the pounding and ever-effervescent ‘Lucretia, my reflection’ the darkest love song imaginable, a tour de force that warns of the ‘roar of the Big Machine’, be it the techno-super-structure, the (old ways) of the power of the printed word or the new colonialism of robo-warfare. Literalism does not frequent these parts, interpretation is within the individual’s capability. Do YOU get it?
‘Dr Jeep’s depressingly still-relevant critique of the world arms traders, those Machiavellian masters of destruction and rebuilding, the Teflon merchants of misery playing the masses off against each other, forever fomenting division and death.
Inadvertently inspiring Team America? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1mlCPMYtPk
The set continued at breakneck pace with arguably the band’s best known song, 1983’s ‘Temple of Love’ a sonic onslaught that underwent a makeover in 1992 by adding Indian singer Ofra Haza’s esoteric wailings to proceedings thus propelling it to number 3 in the UK . Dancefloor electro-rock at its optimum.
The set reminds (if it needed doing) that this sound influenced late-era Depeche Mode and continues to permeate ‘modern’ music, from the nu-metal antics of Blink 182 to Suede’s latest offering, there is light amongst the dark. Majesty reigns.
Eldritch stays true to the old dictum: ‘always keep them wanting MORE’. With that, he was gone, retreating into the smoke and strobe vanishing for another unspecified amount of time. There are no substitutes. The truth never hides, it only appears at times of need. That time is NOW.