Bohren & Der Club Of Gore


Black Earth by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

How to sustain the atmosphere of something you’ve enjoyed without flogging the work itself to death by repeated viewing? In the case of Twin Peaks, the subject of yesterday’s post, you can indulge yourself with spin-off merchandise like this Garmonbozia T-shirt. Or you could try playing the Twin Peaks Murder Mystery Board Game. I own the latter and while it provides some amusement the reduction of the first season’s enigmas to a set of board game rules doesn’t really work that well. Better by far are the two soundtrack CDs by Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me, and the first Julee Cruise album, Floating Into The Night. And if that’s still not enough, there’s always Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

Bohren… are a German “doom jazz” outfit whose origins in the hardcore scene and their enthusiasm for Black Sabbath explains both their name and the appearance of CD covers like the one for Black Earth (2002). But the music within contradicts all expectations. I was first alerted to them a few years ago when I saw them described as being “like the Twin Peaks soundtrack”. An initial “yeah, sure…” scepticism crumbled upon hearing their third album, Sunset Mission (2000), which really does sound like a continuation of Angelo Badalamenti’s slow, dark jazz scores. The fourth album, Black Earth, is better in many ways since it sounds less derivative, further reducing the rhythms to a slow crawl in the manner of doom metal band Earth. In place of the riffs of the doom-meisters you get a sullen saxophone wailing in the dark. Black Earth was followed by the even more minimal Geisterfaust (2005) which happens to have a blue flower on its cover. Coincidence or not? Their most recent album, Dolores (2008), lets some light return with an organ and vibraphone augmenting the slow evolution of each piece. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore are a great band who deserve wider recognition. If you’re a Lynch enthusiast then Sunset Mission and Black Earth are the ones to go for, I’ve been playing them continually all week.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Through the darkness of future pasts
Earth in Manchester

7 thoughts on “Bohren & Der Club Of Gore”

  1. David – totally agree on B&DCoG. You looks at the cover of ‘Black Earth’ (their finest album) and your expectations are set for…well, you know. And what a pleasant surprise it is to have those expectations swept away on waves of dark wonder.
    As for the ‘Blue Rose’ connection – could be coincimental – but I wonder if Peter Straub doesn’t also figure in this, specifically his ‘Blue Rose’ trilogy of novels (Koko, Mystery, The Throat) and the short stories ‘Blue Rose’, ‘The Juniper Tree’ and ‘Ghost Village’, all of which are interlinked in various ways. Straub’s best work has always had a “Lynchian” quality to it and I’ve always wondered if the ‘Blue Rose’ reference in Twin Peaks wasn’t DL’s own subtle recognition of that?

  2. Bohren & Der Club of Gore are one of those special bands that, the first time I’d hear them in the car, I’d hit pause after the first song to re-order my thoughts and come to term with the fact that I’d really stumbled upon a band so good, then restart from the first song and listen to the entire album while driving. I’ve actually been late to work on a few occasions because of this, but I am fortunate enough to be a good liar when I need to be, that is when I am cornered.

    Back the the point, the David Lynch connection is interesting to me. Many people who speak of the band almost immediately make such a comparison between these two artists. The first time I’d heard of them was ‘not’ one of those times. They were listed on Amazon on some page entitled something like- ‘Non-metal bands that are of interest to fans of certain metal subgenres’ – I am sure it was more eloquently written than that. Bohren & Der Club of Gore were listed in either the Black or Doom sections, which isn’t terribly surprising. The first time I actually listened to the record itself in my car, after getting my thoughts straight, one of the first coherent ideas that came into my head was- ‘if “The Golem” by Gustav Meyrink were ever adapted into a movie or serial, David Lynch ‘must’ direct it and these guys ‘must’ be one of the, if not the main contributors of music for this wonderful movie that will surely never be.

  3. Rik: The stroke of genius for me is their creating Doom Jazz of all things. Blues/rock/metal all play with the dark side so Doom as a guitar form was pretty much inevitable. I suppose you could say that film noir soundtracks point the way to Doom Jazz but only so far. Barry Adamson nearly got there with some of his solo albums (and Lynch used some Adamson tracks for Lost Highway), same with John Zorn on his Spillane album. Lynch and Badalamenti might have been the inspiration but soundtracks are still subservient to the pictures they embellish, it takes a band to make a soundtrack innovation into a statement in its own right.

    As to the blue flowers, that symbolism goes back at least as far as Novalis and the Romantics so I’m not sure it needs to be a Straub reference. Until very recently blue roses were an impossibility, hence their being a symbol of something out of the ordinary.

    Wiley: I’d love to see Lynch do anything set in Prague.

  4. Hi Andrew. Yes, I don’t have that one either. I was thinking about it while watching the series, there are many small music cues which are no doubt the ones included. I suppose the main highlight is the song James, Donna and Maddy sing.

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