John Robb – The Art of Darkness: The History of Goth – Book Review
by Killian Laher
Published by Louder Than War Books
John Robb of the Membranes runs the music website Louder Than War and has also written several music-related books. He has attempted to produce something of a definitive book about the much derided music genre: goth. It’s quite an undertaking, tracing the history of goth from the fall of Rome through romantic poets, Aleister Crowley, classical composers such as Wagner and on to the various groups that championed the sound while touching on the fashions that went with it. It’s incredibly thorough, tracing the influence on the bands of The Doors/Velvets/Iggy and especially David Bowie.
There are chapters devoted to all the main suspects, Bauhaus, The Cure, Siouxsie, Nick Cave, Sisters of Mercy etc. There are loads of interviews not found elsewhere, including a particularly illuminating contribution from ex-Sisters of Mercy guitarist Gary Marx. There are some you might not expect: Adam Ant, Marc Almond and New Model Army. One of the many interesting chapters covers Laibach and their experience as a band formed in former Yugoslavia. If you’re looking for an Irish angle, the book also covers the Virgin Prunes and even U2. What’s interesting is how many other artists are ‘touched by the hand of goth’ such as Kate Bush, Simple Minds and Black Flag.
It’s very much a UK-centric take on goth. The main offshoot that the genre spawned, emo, is defined as a skinny jeans and eyeliner take on goth. The music demands to be taken seriously when you think of Nick Cave, the Cure and Joy Division. It’s great to have a really comprehensive overview of goth music. Robb makes it sound fun to be a goth, so dig out the black clothes, the snakebite, and Sisters of Mercy records and devour this one.
The book is available from here
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