I’ve become what I had said I never wanted to become: I’m an oldish guy (okay, no need to hide it, I’m fifty years old) stuck in the musical past.
Somewhere in the mid-to-late-90s, I started not being able to keep up with the music scene. Around that time, the alternative and post-punk scene became fully commercialized and started to assume a cookie-cutter sound. Hell, I’ll toss in metal to that mix, although hair bands had been duplicating themselves as early as the 80s. To my ear, nothing sounded… new. And, with the advent of digital recording in the 00s, you would think that there would be some new stuff to emerge as bands didn’t have to get the blessings of recording gods to break out. But it didn’t happen that way (again, to my ear).
While there have been some breakthrough moments, there’s been nothing like the heady days of the 70s and 80s in the music scene, as rules were being broken and everything was possible, especially if you lacked skills. In fact, skill was often a hindrance to the process of creating new music (personal opinion).
I’m probably wrong, but nothing seems to stretch boundaries or delve deep into emotive responses like it did back then, and so I’ve stopped trying to find it. It’s not like there isn’t good stuff out there, but none of it feels particularly experimental, artistically grasping at something just out of reach, or designed to play the heart-strings. Everything is technically sound, but most of it lacks depth.
So, I keep pulling out my old “goth” music (though Siouxsie and Robert have rejected the label). The first six Cure albums were a core element, but I had plenty of others bands: Sisters, Mission, Cult, Siouxsie, Nephilim, C. Death, Foetus, Skinny Puppy, early Ministry, Cocteaus, Death in June, Sisterhood, Joy Division, Mephisto Walz, The Bunnymen, Xmal, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets…
Of course, “goth” doesn’t have the same meaning in the current environment, so I hesitate to use that adjective. We would have referred to most modern-day goths as gutterpunks back in the day — there was a sense of decorum among the goths (locally called “darksiders” or “kookie-spooks”) — it wasn’t just about wearing black and it definitely had little to do with piercing/body mortification. I don’t think I would have recognized the current goth music or fashion as gothic back in the day. It lacks the aristocracy of 80s goth.
My own “pure” goth fashion period was short-lived. I ended up evolving into more eskimo/hippy/dervish after about two years of emulating Simon Gallup. But the music was still central to my being, though I wore paisley, myrrh and keffiyeh.
I can still recite the full Pornography album from “It doesn’t matter if we all die” to “I must fight this sickness/find a cure”, which is pretty pathetic once I put it into writing.