bITS 'N CHUNKS
Labels and the general culture of us vs poseurs taught me not to trust anyone that gives themselves an actual category. I know, that's stupid but it was a big thing back in The Day™.
Why? Because labels put you in a box and meant you were a puppet. If you voluntarily called yourself glam metal then we already knew what you were all about and there was no room for anything else. That's why to this day a lot of older goths still hiss at the "goth" label, because of what it is and what it has become. When you get tired of explaining things to people, it's easier to distance yourself.
The only people that I know of that lean head first into categorization is metal heads and punks and even that is not always a given. You can find generic headbangers anyway and most of them will definitely let you know, but there's a lot of us that hate subcategories for example. Punks are…well, punks. A lot of us don't care either.
Now, depending on how old you are you probably had to re-read that last part. Did you just refer to "us" as both punks and metalheads? Yes, there was a time when those two categories mixed like cesium and water. Labels suddenly matter a lot when you need to know what club to go to so you don't get your ass kicked.
That being said, with that kind of history it's weird to think at some point punks and metalheads would meet, agree, shake hands, and not murder each other. But it happens all the time. Goths and rockabilly stray cats met up for gothabilly or psychobilly and that's kind of weird. Apparently the meeting of minds of metal and hardcore punk was crossover.
So speaking of figuring out your aesthetic, physical appearance is very important too!
The gag is, your physical appearance almost never has to match up with your output. I mean yeah, it's great when your aesthetic is cohesive and you look the part of a NASA scientist, but that brings in a lot of earthly questions like "what is it truly to look like something?"
Honestly, if you look too close to something I'm going to assume you're a poseur. You don't want that, right?
For my next few music posts, I'm taking a break from talking about combining music and writing and moving into small niche genres, why I'm attracted to them, albums I like in those genres, and just generally the notion of internal aesthetic versus outside appearance.
The biggest culprit of this dichotomy is goth. What is goth? Post-punk. What is post-punk? The thing that came after punk. Okay, there's a lot of things that came after punk. For every genre there is a post or anti genre. Hardcore? Post-hardcore. Grunge? Post-grunge. Goth distinguishes itself by having other facets beyond just "post punk". And for the last time, goth is more than just looking spooky. You can look like John Q Public and still be goth, it's just unlikely but not terribly uncommon.
That being said. I don’t want to share my favorite goth music albums because that's for another time, or even my feelings on what is and is not goth because I don't care and neither do you. But what I do want to share is something I thought of with Angela Benedict's video on finding your goth sound. The point she brings up is as human beings, we tend to listen to what's familiar and what we liked the most in our formative years (paraphrasing). The example she gives is industrial. I too grew up drenched in industrial sweat and lashed by punishing EBM blackstrobe but you know where I really came from?
FOLK. MUSIC. I am the biggest Bob Dylan stan you know and you can't fight me and win. The music that I am drawn most to outside of folk is everything that sounds like folk. Growing up in a black household, I also like bass. Like, a lot of bass.
So I kicked back and thought, if I had an absolute aesthetic masterpiece of a greatest hits album, what comprises me? I came up with a handful:
Sisters of Mercy - First Last & Always
The Mission - God's Own Medicine
Depeche Mode - Violator
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Siouxsie & the Banshees - Tinderbox
This is specifically in terms of goth because if I had to include everything the list would be quite long. But see what I mean? All very intensely personal albums, a little weird, a little confrontational, a little dark, high up in bass and completely unbothered. The Dylan album notwithstanding. That's not even my favorite Dylan album by the way.
All oddly folksy.
(But never neo-folk.)
Different but all preying and building upon roughly the same thing. Telling stories about moments in time. Not really concept albums but I am very much into those as well. Crafting a good set of songs. Statement albums.
A statement piece is what I aspire to be.
Do you think a lot about finding your aesthetic? Or what that even means?
I was finally able to see Bladerunner 2049 (which is excellent) and one of the things that struck me, visually, is how it captured the Philip K. Dick aesthetic maybe even better than the original. Of course, there have been technological advantages since then to help out with that. The liberal usage of CGI enhances the artificiality of this dystopian cyberpunk world. Bladerunner did its best and is still very good, but it's a very urban story and kind of hampered by the mysteries in the plot (also known as inconsistencies, also known as "is Harrison Ford a damn replicant or not").
The sequel leaned in a lot more to the cyberpunk aesthetics than the noir, although that was well enforced as well. Forgive me the reference, but it was very Chinatown. That being said, tonally both Bladerunner and the sequel and subsequent shorts in the 'verse are and have always been way off. They tell a much more romantic story than "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" That's cool because I don't expect my movie adaptations of books to get every last nook and cranny right and I'm glad even when they shoot for 70%. If Bladerunner the movie is Chinatown, then "Do Androids..." is No Country for Old Men. Anyway. As usual, I'm struggling to get to the point.
For the remainder of fall, I wanted to do a short series on occult literature largely because it's one of my major interests in life. It crops up a lot in my writing but usually in the form of demons because I don't need a reason to include demons.
Now, for those of you who don't know, I'm a staunch atheist. End of. I believe in no magic, demons, angels, deities, or even fortune and you will not make me in a box, with a fox, Courtney Cox and so on. That being said, I also have tips for my fellow non-believers on dealing with people who like to force religion on you, which I'll get into.
My atheism aside, I've always maintained an open mind and at least a vague interest in religions and belief systems. I like Christian Bible stories, I have read translations of the Qu'ran, I try to learn about Eastern religions and philosophies in more than a "pick 'n choose" way, and of course paganism. I have a lot of Wiccan friends and a few Christians in there; I'm so far gone that listening to them talk about ceremony and rituals is a lot like trying to follow a Magic: The Gathering game without first knowing what the hell trading cards are.
But yeah, my interest in those things are mostly attempts to be sensitive and understanding and not look ignorant as hell. My interest in the occult I feel like is a lot more broad and profound. My introduction to anything occult or esoteric was through alchemy and Hermeticism. To this day I still relate to themes involving those systems.
So, I'm gonna be showing y'all some texts that were influential on my thinking. I hope it helps. I'm going to include some skeptical texts as well as a sort of coffee bean. Most of everything that I draw out with the exception of like three things is available on Sacred-Texts.org, which is a great resource for ALL manner of spirituality and philosophy.
Good Halloween mourning everyone,
My latest piece for Global Comment is up, and it is a lucha doozy! Join me in dodgy subtitle land!
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...