First and last and always

I must have been 18 or 19, at least I had my drivers’ licence. I had been in Prague with school before, so had my brother a year later and we convinced our parents to have holidays in the Czech Republic. From my earlier visit to the city I knew that there were plenty of record stores there. I was still in my metal period, because I have pictures of me wearing a Venom cap and a shirt of the Prague black metal band Root. While going through the tape rack of some recordstore, my eye fell on two tapes of The Sisters Of Mercy. One was “A Slight Case Of Overbombing”, the other one I do not know, since I did not buy it. Since the slight case is called “greatest hits volume one” I suppose the white tape was volume two, but I have never been able to find it, it is not even listed on Discogs! I did not really know the Sisters, I only knew that there were “gothic” and I suppose I was already in my ‘transition period”. I liked the music a lot, but it would take many years before I would actually buy more music of this band. Gothic has never really been my cup of tea.
The first period of the Sisters was from 1985 to 1990 in which they released their best material. The Sisters may have been a typical “gothic rock” band, but not the first. The story of goth actually begins with punk, a musical style that proved to be the gene-pool for many later musical genres. There were punks who found the punk-scene becoming too negative and were thus called “positive punks” or later “post punks”. Quickly these post punks distiguished themselves from the good old punks because they started to dress entirely in black and the lyrics slowly shifted towards ‘black romanticism’. From the early days (late 1980’ies) there was a variety of music, but “gothic rock” or “death rock” were best known. There were harder bands such as Christian Death and softer bands such as The Cure. The style of the latter was often called “wave”, later “new wave”. A whole range of bands can be mentioned, but the variety of bands already made up some kind of ‘scene’. As we all know, the colour of the 80’ies was black, the hair style reminds of nowadays “grufties” (the term for a “goth” in Germany). The reason for this is simple, a large part of the gothic/wave scene was the popmusic of the 80’ies. There is a great film called “24 Hour Party People” in which you can see how guitar-based music got electronic elements (drumcomputers, synths, etc.) and how wave-music was slowly replaced by the completely instrumental “rave music”. Goth did not die, it just went underground where it still is, bigger than any music underground. The gothic rock and wave styles were later succeeded by a great many other music styles, making the gothic scene enormously varried. There has always been a preference for classical (or orchestral) and medieval music and new styles include purely orchestral and/or medieval music. When the “industrial” scene (which will be the subject of another story) more or less grew together with the gothic scene, mixes and more new styles of music started to appear from extremely violent electronics (“noise”, “power electronics”) to the eerie sounds of “heavenly voices”, just have a look at my ‘dictionary‘ (which needs updating). However not every listener of every style will call him-/herself “gothic” (in fact, many might not), the wide variety of styles can be witnessed during the annual Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig (in 2011 for the 20th time!) where you can walk from a performance of the Requiem of Mozart to the loud danceable industrial of Winterkälte. The enormous scope of bands playing in Leipzig is actually only limited by politics, since as many musical styles there are, there are as many clothing style, but also philosophies and politics, but not all of the latter are welcome in Leipzig. Many people avoid the Treffen because they find it too commercial (there have been up to 25.000 visitors!) others like a city crowded with people weirder than themselves and a couple of days with a variety of interesting events.
There is a lot more to say about the past and the present, but I did not experience much of the past and am mostly involved in but a small part of the present, but I thought I might sketch the outlines of what may come.

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