Back to 1979
This might be a little presumptuous to say–but UK band Bauhaus was living in the future during the late 1970s, honing their sound until contributing to the foundation of the post-punk genre. While Echo & The Bunnymen and The Chameleons joined the scene fashionably late, Bauhaus arguably started something they were meant to finish. Their new release of The Bela Session on November 23rd contains the final say in post-punk, as Bauhaus rips open their wounds for listeners to peek inside.
The session the album name refers to is the first time Bauhaus recorded together in 1979. Famous for their gothic stylistic lens on rock, Bauhaus never defined their sound or limited themselves to one genre. Psychedelic chords spilled through their music while funk beats give the songs a dance-along feel.
Droning on for over nine minutes, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” captures the essence of Bauhaus’ hazy goth sound. As an intro song, it may leave first-time listeners curious and confused. For seasoned fans, however, the reissue of this decadent song only means that “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” has fermented for over 30 years, fully ripened and ready for a full audience today. There is no doubt Bauhaus was on the forefront of post-punk music, taking the out-done punk genre by the reigns and steering it in a new funky, synth direction.
Lucky for us, Bauhaus tracked down this 1979 recording session and included the previously unreleased song “Some Faces” on The Bela Session. The song sounds like a B-side for 1981 album Mask, fitting the punk-dub rock sound and trickling guitar.
Another unreleased track “Bite My Hip” surfaces on The Bela Session with notorious distortions of Daniel Ash’s guitar-picking. With brief shouting in a melodic tune, vocalist Peter Murphy takes a bite into the orchestration with staccato-esque vocals, turning the music into a graceful carcass of chaos.
Previously released as a B-side, reissued track “Harry” plays with percussion and musical ornament. The orchestral fringe fills the melody with a reggae-sounding, hopping tune while Murphy’s voice ties the song into more punk tendencies.
“Boys” pulls from gothic noise and fuzzy feedback from the amps–Kevin Haskins’ drums and David J’s bass holding the song together in a perfect balancing act. With a slower tempo, the vocals rhythmically match the mood of the dazed and gloomy orchestration.
Living in the modern age of EDM and hip-hop dominating pop culture, Bauhaus’ sound still resonates with many. Although Bauhaus flatters our listening ears with two unreleased songs on The Bela Session, the band might be isolating themselves from contemporary genres. Regardless, the decades of Bauhaus vinyl that still make it on our turntables for basement parties will spin indefinitely. Neglecting the modern age of music, Bauhaus basks in their past for a reminiscent disclosure of who they were and still are.