Saturday, January 17, 2009
Gothic rock (also referred to as goth rock or simply goth) is a musical subgenre of alternative rock that formed during the late 1970s. Gothic rock bands grew from the strong ties they had to the English punk rock and emerging post-punk scenes. The genre itself was defined as a separate movement from punk rock during the early 1980s largely due to the significant stylistic divergences of the movement; gothic rock, as opposed to punk, combines dark, often keyboard-heavy music with introspective and depressing lyrics. Notable gothic rock bands include Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and The Sisters of Mercy, among many others. Gothic rock gave rise to a broader goth subculture that includes clubs, various fashion trends and numerous publications that grew in popularity in the 1980s.
Gothic rock takes the guitar and synthesizer sounds of post-punk and uses them to construct "foreboding, sorrowful, often epic soundscapes". According to music journalist Simon Reynolds, standard musical fixtures of the genre include "scything guitar patterns, high-pitched post-Joy Division basslines that usurped the melodic role, beats that were either hypnotically dirgelike or 'tribal', and vocals that were either near operatic and Teutonic or deep, droning alloys of Jim Morrison and Ian Curtis". Many goth bands use drum machines that do not stress the back beat in the rhythm.
Gothic rock typically deals with dark themes addressed through lyrics and the music atmosphere. The poetic sensibilities of the genre led gothic rock lyrics to exhibit literary romanticism, morbidity, religious symbolism, and/or supernatural mysticism. In addition to the imagery and atmosphere of the Middle Ages, gothic rock creates a dark atmosphere by drawing influence from the drones utilised by protopunk group The Velvet Underground, and many goth singers are influenced by the "deep and dramatic" vocal timbre of David Bowie, albeit singing at even lower pitches.
In the late 1970s, the word "gothic" was used to describe a "doomy atmosphere" in the music of post-punk bands like Joy Division; the group's producer Martin Hannett had described the band's music as "dancing music with Gothic overtones". Not long after, the term was used in a derogatory fashion in reference to bands like Bauhaus that followed in the wake of Joy Division and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Despite their legacy as progenitors of gothic rock, these groups disliked the label. In 1982, Ian Astbury of the band Southern Death Cult used the term "gothic goblins" to describe Sex Gang Children's fans.