Welcome to Review Revue, where every Thursday I dig through the KEXP stacks to share DJ reviews and comments written on the covers of LPs (and occasionally CDs) in the ’80s and ’90s, when the station was called KCMU, the DJs were volunteers, and people shared their opinions on little white labels instead of the internet.
Next Wednesday, May 22nd, is World Goth Day, and we here at KEXP are taking it very seriously (is there any other way to take World Goth Day?). Given that the '80s and early '90s, my general stomping grounds for this column, are incredibly fertile ground for goth and goth-adjacent music, I felt I would be derelict in my duties if I didn't picky a gothy album in anticipation of the holiday. (It is a holiday, right? I need to double-check that I get the day off work.)
But what is goth music? It's a tricky genre — if it even is a genre — to define, encompassing as it does a wide range of sounds. Sometimes it's loud, sometimes it's heavy, sometimes it rocks, sometimes it's pretty. I figure the safest definition is "music beloved by goths," and we are on pretty solid ground in categorizing the idiosyncratic, decidedly non-rocking music of Dead Can Dance in that category. I don't know if there were any goth DJs at KCMU in 1990, when the band's 5th album Aion was released, but the album was almost universally well-received — to the point that there started to be a clamoring to move it out of heavy rotation, which always indicates something has been well-loved by DJs and listeners alike.
Dead Can Dance — who are still a band, and released a new album last year — are currently on tour, celebrating the range of their work since 1980. Maybe they'll play something from Aion — I do hope they brought a hurdy-gurdy with them.
"Wowee! Real neat-o Middle Ages and Renaissance sounding stuff. Smooth. Good instrumentals. I like everything except that Male voice that pops up Mid-East Sound on #12. H Because this is true Variety of the best sort."
"PLEASE HANDLE THIS RECORD WITH THE LOVING CARE IT DESERVES! (Don't mess with the artwork, either.)"
"Read these stickers . . ." [We are! It took us 29 years, but we are.]
"How much longer will this be in H? I find this very painful to play. The vocalist sounds like Perry Como!"
"They've been heading in this direction for a while - it's very beautiful & somehow modern - in spite of the mediaeval sound. Played loud, this is enough to transport you back to the Middle Ages."
"So beautiful and new! HHHH"
"Take a look at Sun Ra's It's After the End of the World LP cover. Same painting by Heironymus Bosch." [True, for the record.]
"Sounds better the more I listen to it . . ."
"Yes, it's my very favorite thing now. I hope they come on tour!"
"Also on disc (outside the door). Yay!"
"Buy this. Take it into a dark room w/a candle and play it."
"If I hear 'Saltarello' one more time I'm going to slit my throat!"
"Get your razor ready cuz here it goes again."
"Not my style, but then they have never been."
"Very impressive album. Ethereal + beautiful, melodic + sometimes minimalist."
"Ethereal is right! Right on!"
"If you can't segue into & out of this stuff, you'd better enroll at the Columbia School of Broadcasting."