I know what you are all going to say. "But Aytakk, you said you were going to write something different for your next article!"
Well stow it! This is too important to pass up. Its not everyday an obscure band is unearthed and made public. This review needs to happen. You need to know about this album (could I even call it an album? I'll go into that later) today. The scope of this album... musical release? Well its a gamechanger. A slice of goth history that was sadly lost and has now been rediscovered thanks to the power of the internet.
The rediscovery begins in October last year when youtuber Waksmonster posted the 1988 music video for the song Sad Party by Haunted Haus. Going by information there he had a hand in editing the video back in the day so he must have had a copy stashed away on some dusty shelf somewhere. The quality isn't great but hey - its such a great song I'd have watched the tape over and over again myself. No way it would survive in pristine condition.
So that was the first taste the world had of the rediscovery of Haunted Haus. Until recently.
It turns out there was an entire album (if you can call it that) recorded and released on cassette. Or at least that is what they have on offer. The artwork is rather basic as you could see so it could very well just be an early demo recorded on a standard cassette recorder with the artwork idly doodled on the cover between poetry classes. My guess is it likely pre-dates the video from 1988 by a few years as there is no sign of anything to do with Sad Haus Records on the cover slip.
Anyway the cassette has been digitally dubbed and is now on bandcamp here
You can buy a copy of the cassette (yay for cassettes being so easy to copy with a double tape deck) or digital media. I sold out and bought the digital media which kind of feels like cheating.
I mean... all the warped tape and grit is there as it can't be avoided in the digital dubbing process and would be impossible to clean up unlike vinyl clicks and pops. Though I miss the sound of the tape player mechanically moving the spools and the hiss of the magnetic reader needing a head clean. Plus you can jump to any track and just go. I feel it should have been dubbed as a single 15-ish minute long audio file to maintain that cassette integrity of having to randomly fast forward to hope you get to the song you want to hear. It really diminishes the listening experience.
I am very tempted to try find an old stereo with a tape deck (with the door missing of course - its was the first thing to break on those things) and a crappy turntable. I am used to CDs so I'm not getting that authentic sound. I could take a fork to my CD collection to possibly re-create it but it wouldn't be the same. Better to buy some old cassettes and copy the music to that. Even better, I should start collecting vinyl as that will give me extra goth prestige on top. To get the sound just right I can rub some dirt into those shiny, well looked after records I manage to buy for three times their value on Ebay and then throw cats at them.
'Tis but a scratch
Anyway, enough about all that. I'm sure you want to hear about Goth As Moff and get a proper review.
Goth as Moff opens with "Enter Haus" - a short reprise to set the mood of the album/demo tape/EP/whatever. Fine, I'll just call it an album from here on in. This is the sort of gratuitous thing you would simply skip over on modern recordings but if you are listening to this as it should be (I listened to it all in one long sitting so I got that part right) you will hear this reprise a lot. A lovely organ piece that would sound at home in a Dracula movie as well as Sunday morning in church. You don't get much more goth than that.
Next we have "Haunted Haus" which should not be confused with the name of the band itself. Haunted Haus I think are trend setters in the history of goth but we didn't know. A lot of bands make a habit of naming themselves after other band's songs, or vice versa, in the goth subculture. Its a sign of respect and coattail riding to try to leech off the fame of others. In this case the only thing Haunted Haus is sucking is itself. Mikey (the man behind Haunted Haus) has the talent and vision to do it all on his own. As for the song itself? Three minutes of slow burning horror themed darkness. In a house.
Next we have the title track of the album "Goth As Moff". I have to say I'm a little confused as to what a moff is. I'm guessing its some obscure 80s reference they are using to sound mysterious. So I googled "80s moff" to see what turned up. The only real reference that comes up is Grand Moff Tarkin from the Star Wars movies. Well he does control Darth Vader and Vader is pretty darn goth so I guess to be Goth as Moff is pretty darn goth indeed. He was played by Peter Cushing too so extra points there.
Moff goth glare
Or maybe it was mispronounced/spelled... Goth as Hoff? That actually works as David Hasselhoff (The Hoff) was Knight Rider. Gawth as fuck that shit was. Though he did sell out later by doing Baywatch. That sun and goths do not mix!
"The Night Rider, remember him when you look at the night sky."
Hang on, thats the wrong one!
You can never get enoff of the Goff Hoff
Next song - "If I Could Feel The Same Again" holds the record on this album for longest title. And we all know how bands loved their long song titles back in the 80s so it makes complete sense. The intro is rather jarring until you realize that this is the proof we needed that this is an early demo. This was clearly recorded over an old disco/funk recording which would date this tape closer to the early 80s than to 1988. As for the song I can hear numerous styles later repeated by artists like The Cure and The Smiths.
"Hazy Daze" is the gratuitous instrumental track of the album. Back in the 80s it was customary for any goth artist worth their salt to include at least one instrumental track. I have a feeling Haunted Haus in fact created this custom. Haunting, jingling guitars, steady unchanging drum beat - everything a goth could hope for!
And now we get to "Sad Party". What more can be said than the video itself?
Its a sad party. We've all been there. Its what goth is all about.
Finally, we have "Goth Has The Rock" and boy did Mikey save some of the best for last. This track pre-dates 90s goth and in particular that Sisters of Mercy clone band sound by at least 10 years. He knew where the future was going and that goth indeed has the rock.
Actually now I'm thinking about it... Andrew Eldritch has always denied being goth. But so has Robert Smith and Morrisey. People assumed it was because Andrew hates being pigeon-holed into goth but I wonder...
Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
No, it couldn't be...
Could it be that Andrew Eldritch has dodged the goth label all these years because Sisters of Mercy stole from Haunted Haus? Sisters made a name for themselves while Haunted Haus was left in the dust. The evidence is certainly here in this release.
Seems Porl King (Rosetta Stone) was right when he played this cover :
I guess you want me to rate the album or give it a score or something because that's what album reviews are meant to do. I could but I don't think a score or rating will accurately capture the true feeling of the album, its profound effect on the goth subculture or the ripples that are still felt from its influence today.
Okay, okay. Quit bugging me, I'll do it!
Would Goth As Moff in a Haunted Haus again.
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.