[Main] [Ordering] [Back Issues] [News] [Off-Topic] [Magazine Articles] [Links] [Thanks]

Man Down

…and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death…

Three more new sounds were showcased at the Sisters' Event Horizon tour this year, their lyrics concomitantly appearing on the new website. All three show that Eldritch, far from being blocked or inert, as suggested by certain sections of the bastard media, has developed further as a lyricist. They are songs whose texture and sense are superficially amenable, yet which bite the incautious analyst with layered barbs. Two of the songs, "Summer" and "(We are the same) Suzanne" are nevertheless an evolution in the mould of Eldritch. They have a direct or implied autobiographical sense involving an Eldritch-like narrator interacting with his world. Undoubtedly they'll be the fayre of future article sin GPS, but the third song, Romeo Down, is a much more significant development from Eldritch as a lyricist in that it is purely third person narrative (the only other example we can think of like this is Anaconda). Glasperlenspiel invited the renowned Marxist-Deconstructivist, Jack Derider, to offer his thoughts on Romeo Down...

To date Eldritch's entire lyrical concerning has been concerned with the relationship between Eldritch or an Eldritchesque narrator and his world. This has extended to reinvestigating the factors which structure that world - the Cold War and impending holocaust were a catalyst for the vigorously hedonistic nihilism of some earlier songs, just as the soullessness of Thatcherite monetarism, leaving "no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest" created the culture of alienation that spawned and drove this Sisters in the first place. It was nevertheless a world in which Eldritch made damn sure that he survived and even thrived. As he developed and matured as a songwriter, we see the lyrics not only as having deliberate ambiguity (which is not that same as saying they mean whatever you want them to mean) or a text and subtext, but a whole myriad of associative and elliptical senses consistently rooted in the world of their philologist creator.

Thus Romeo Down is a departure. It's been suggested that it is a counterpoise to Ribbons, but that's only because it involves and act or terminal violence within the context of a relationship. The lyric is spectacularly spare, relying on subtle shifts in the sonic sensual template to progress from beginning to end. Eldritch has given us two clues to its genesis, describing it as his own Frankie Teardrop, and likening it to an Alain Robbe-Grillet screenplay. Frankie Teardrop is an epic turbulent track by the legendary Suicide (see pages 00 and 18).

Its short text is of a hopeless blue-collar worker unable to survive in society, taking the lives of his wife and baby and ultimately himself rather than carry on living. Frankie's inability to perceive any course of action other than destruction of his family and life is the product of a society which has given him objects of desire but which has robbed him of the ability even to aspire. Alan Vega must have hoped he was charting the end of a bleaker phase of Capitalism when he raged, empathising with "poor Frankie", unaware that worse was yet to come.

If Alain Robbe-Grillet's screenplays are a benchmark, or an inspiration, we wonder if it's the more gruesomely sado-masochistic Trans-Europ Express (still banned in the UK) rather than The Last Year in Marienbad. Either way Robbe-Grillet's work explores the relationship between mind and reality, particularly when the mind is under stress. In real life time does not move at a constant rate - things happen fast or slow - we interpret events and our memory retains a version of reality. We often replay this ourselves, reanalysing, realigning and reinterpreting, sometimes even wilfully changing. What is left?

Eldritch claims he doesn't know if Romeo, who "won't understand til he piss blood in the palm of his hand" gets VD or dies. It seems there are alternative endings or alternative realities.

Is it an uncertain world?

If the moments with which we define the future are as ambiguous as our interpretations of them, if our interpretations of the subtlest gesture and action are imbued with the same ambiguity and potential for misinterpretation, then it's a wonder that there aren't more catclysms of the type delineated in Romeo Down.

The relationship between mind and reality becomes a battlefield when the mind is under stress. In real life time does not move at a constant rate - things happen fast or slow - in the interpretation events, whether they have happened or not, whether they are merely the projections of a wanted course, events we would like to happen or would have liked to happen, or events which impinge on reason of the forms with which we're comfortable, whatever they are. Our memory retains a version of reality which is manipulation, disfigured and is as alien to individuals who have shared that reality is the garden of solitary experience. We replay, reanalyse, realign and reinterpret memories. Changes can occur.

It is an uncertain world.



Back to back issues.