Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Welcome to Stegzy’s Music Project

Hello! Thank you for coming along.

Hello Badger

Hello!

Over the years I have accrued over 182Gb of music. Thats loads. Some I have paid for, others I have obtained as gifts or nefariously.

A great deal of this music I have not listened to, mostly because of protests from people in the same room but also because it would take me about 92.7 solid 24 hour days to listen to the entire lot (figures accurate). So, towards the end of 2012 I thought I would listen to each album in its entirety and post a small review of what I have listened to.

So far I have listened to variety of music from various ends of the music spectra. From pop to experimental via the twisty turny pathways of prog, goth and heavy metal. This blog was set up in response to demands by long term readers of my Livejournal blog. Mostly “Stop”, “Please no more” and “My God! You call this music?!”. Curiously, the same demands that come from people who are unfortunate enough to travel as a passenger in my car.

Each day, using J River Media Centre and iTunes,  I will be listening to the albums alphabetically without the aid of headphones and posting comments, reviews and general thoughts on each album as I come across them. Some might be good, others, bloody awful.

You can follow my progress here or via my Last.FM profile.  So, sit back, tune in, drop out, buckle up and fetch your pipe and slippers. With over 1800 albums to listen to, it’s going to be a very long ride.

**Update** – I am now accepting contributors. If you would like to review an album from my collection, please contact me via comment, PM or email. You can request an album to be appointed  at random or let me know which artist you like. I might just have an album or two for you to provide commentary on.

 

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Halo Star – Black Tape for a Blue Girl [#566]

Halo_Star_(Black_Tape_for_a_Blue_Girl_album_-_cover_art)Halo Star is the ninth studio album by the band Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

We’ve seen BTBG on the music project a couple of times before, most notably with their tenth album 10 Neurotics. As 10 Neurotics was my first experience of BTBG album and their most recent, the earlier Halo Star is difficult to adapt to, especially as I’ve not really given it that much play time. That’s not to say I don’t like it, I just guess that having eaten the cherry on the cake, the icing and sponge is one meal too much.

But I will perceiver.

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Ha Ha Sound – Broadcast [#565]

HahasoundWhen we last saw Broadcast, they were working with Focus Group Investigating Witch Cults in the Radio Agea hauntological psychedelic album with a tragic epitaph.  Ha Ha Sound is Broadcast’s second studio album.

This traditionally “difficult” second album demonstrates the further development of Broadcast’s musical talent. Indeed, while lacking the finesse (and additional production from Focus Group) having heard the later Witch Cults first I was reluctant to spoil my impression of Broadcast by polluting it with earlier works. But in this instance I was rather surprised by how much I like it.

Think Portishead only 30 years ago.

 

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Gut Feeling – Belly [#564]

R-4389581-1407133358-7875-1.jpegAnother bootleg, another band; You won’t find Gut Feeling in the shops, but you will find it during the music download free for all mid-noughties. Like I did.

It was then that I was  intent on finding as much as I could of Tanya Donelly’s works having heard a few songs on various sampler CDs and having recalled the popularity of Belly amongst my university friends in the nineties. So when I found out that they hadn’t actually made that many albums, I resorted to bootlegs and fan stuff.

Gut Feeling comprises of a compilation of recordings made at the band’s gig in Grant Park in Chicago and New Orleans LA in 1993. It’s nice because there are so few bootlegs out there for the band which is a shame because they are often overlooked these days.

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Guitar Legends – Various Artists [#563]

Guitar Legends The guitar. Some would say it is a crucial instrument in modern music. “Without guitar” they might say, “All you have is some bloke singing with drums and a keyboard.” Which is true, but as we have already heard with the likes of Morphine and Matt Howden, the guitar is merely a tool in the production of great music. However, one cannot ignore the guitar completely, especially when presented with a compilation such as today’s album.

This two disc 41 song Capital Gold compilation features some interesting choices. It starts off quite promising with songs by Queen, Derek & the Dominos (guess which song), Rainbow and even Motorhead. But by the mid-way point it drifts into a sort of smokey late eighties blues nightclub (the proper sort where you go to listen to live music and smoke not to get pissed and/or laid) where Skynrd, Frampton, Santana and Lee Hooker have been placed on the bill with later guest appearances by John Lodge & Justin Hayward, Nick Drake and the Shadows.

If, for some reason, you’ve been living in a guitar free world and you’re interested in finding out what can be done with the instrument, I suppose this is a good way to find out.

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Guitar Favourites – Norbert Kraft [#562]

71dXBWuSKZL._SX522_When I was studying for an A Level in Music Performance my old college friend Min decided that rock guitar was “so last year” and turned his guitar playing skills from the electric to the classical guitar. I have to say, he was bloody good at both.

I’ve had loads of guitar playing friends over the years and, he’d probably hit me for awarding him such an accolade, but on this side of the celebrity curtain, I’d say Min was definitely the most talented of the lot. Of course, yet to see Jim play Asturias, Malagueña Salerosa  or Recuerdos de la Alhambra so that could change.

After many months practice Min managed to play Asturias with all the dexterity and finger twiddly of an accomplished guitarist almost, but not quite, like John Williams or Narcisio Yepes. Of course having spent many hours listening to him practice, the tune stuck in my head and, as a result, when I saw todays album in the bargain basket in WH Smith, I snaffled it.

Norbert Kraft is one such accomplished guitarist and I would wager he could out twiddle John Williams in a twiddle off. But then I suppose that’s like comparing Matt Howden with Nigel Kennedy. On this album, Kraft twiddles his way through 19 tracks of classic Classical classical guitar melodies effortlessly, though if a little allegro instead of vivace in places.

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Greenslade – Greenslade [#561]

Greenslade_coverDave Greenslade again, this time with his debut self titled album.

Greenslade is a progressive rock album and so there is quite a fair bit of twiddly keyboarding going on. In fact, Greenslade do for Moog and Hammond keyboards what Yes‘ Steve Howe does for guitars. However, this is a hard-core prog, a prog that only those that either experiment with certain illicit substances or those trained and lectured to Master of Prog Level 10 might fully appreciate. As I have not experimented with certain illicit substances and I am only a mere Level 6 self proclaimed Prog Master, Greenslade features in the music project purely for research purposes.

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Green – REM [#560]

R.E.M._-_GreenAfter the incessant hounding of “should liking” U2 ended (I liked original Waterboys instead, never saw the appeal of U2 to be honest) the incessant hounding of “should liking” REM began.

People kept saying “OMG! REM are teh bezt” insisting that Michael Stipe and his chums were something new and exciting. Except, much like what happened with INXS, I hated them. Every song I heard was happy pop bollocks and reminded me too much of god bothering They Might Be Giants. Then James H Reeve played “Orange Crush” on his show late one night and explained the reasoning.

People would say “OMG! REM are teh bezt”. I would say “Well, I liked Orange Crush but nothing else”. People would say “I don’t understand that album” or “I didn’t like the early stuff” and so my theory that to some misguided people, bands are only as good as their popularity and notoriety was proven.

REM are still shite though.

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Greatest No.1 Singles – Various Artists [#559]

41SXZJ8MHCLWhether it’s Garth and Wayne singing Bohemian Rhapsody in a car, Robert de Niro in Jackie Brown rocking away to a strip tease to the Supreme’s Baby Love or fish faced Julia Roberts poncing down a New York high street to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, this compilation has a selection of songs that everyone born in the last 50 years should be familiar with somehow or other.

Originally this was a two volume compilation (still available on Amazon)but over time volume 1 has been lost. Probably for the best as the “greatest” singles on the second volume were all a little too contemporaneous compared to those presented on volume 1. There was a spate of similar compilations after the millennium, Greatest This, Greatest That and who could forget the Absolute All Time Best of Super-dooper Mega Party Funtime Hoo-Har Music Ever Volume 3, all vying for the  hard earned cash of the gullible.  Of course, as with all compilations, there are some tracks I feel shouldn’t be there, and others that are conspicuous by their absence. Never the less, Greatest No.1 Singles is a nice “leave it on in the background while you do the cleaning” album.

 

 

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Greatest Lovesongs, Vol.666 – HIM [#558]

In my opinion, HIM was borne on the back of the mid ninetiesHIM-GreatestLovesongsVol666 semi-successes of corporate-goth bands like Evanescence. Unremarkable, goth themed performers singing grungy devil worship innuendo laden lyrics while also providing music for the occasional occult themed movie soundtrack.

I was told I wouldn’t like HIM.

They were right. I don’t. HIM are too similar in sound to the likes of Scream Silence and Rasmus and then the whole chicken/egg thing starts in my mind.

I keep this album purely to be reminded that someone murdered Chris Isaak‘s Wicked Game and Blue Oyster Cults Don’t Fear the Reaper and that I’m glad I didn’t pay for album.

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Greatest Hits Vols 1 & 2 – Queen [#556 & #557]

Queen_Greatest_Hits-1440px-Queen_-_Greatest_Hits_2It often seems like people tell me that I should like bands more than I do.
I’ve never liked Queen that much. Sure I appreciate the groundbreaking style of Bohemian Rhapsody, I also like their soundtrack to Flash Gordon but as I’ve said previously, I never held much love for Freddie Mercury and his pals.

Whether it was the type of person at my school that liked Queen, the sound or the way Freddie Mercury and Brian May, like Annie Lennox, made me feel uneasy. I remember being very young and ill in bed with a fever and Queen was on the radio as I was  having hallucinations featuring Benny from Crossroads, the Yorkshire Ripper, big brown leather cushions and a needle and thread. I guess that swung it.

So I’ve never bought any of their albums, obtaining these two via the generous internet download free for all of the mid noughties. Even so, like with Abba, Guns N Roses and similar artists of the time, their music features on my life soundtrack, so it’s hard to rule them out entirely hence their Greatest Hits being in my collection. Maybe if it wasn’t for Benny from Crossroads, Paul Midgeley’s dad and his Ford Sierra and Nick Gosney’s overly freckly round face, I might have given them a bit more air time.

 

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Greatest Hits – Guns N’Roses [#555]

GreatestHits_Guns'n'RosesAxl Rose and his buddies cram 14 of their songs onto a CD and call it their greatest.

In my opinion, Guns N’ Roses are a band of a certain time. That time, for me at least, being between 1990 and 1994. Because, it’s during those years in my life that their music features regularly on my life soundtrack. Of course , it’s not entirely as straight forward as that.

Guns N’ Roses are one of those bands I have been continually told that I “should” like. I think that suggestion started when I expressed an appreciation in Iron Maiden but I may be mistaken. To be fair though, GNR did appear to be everywhere in the early nineties and were popular amongst my fellow pupils at school. Thing was, I was still too interested in Progressive Rock and Chris Isaak to be bothered by new comers.

On reflection, when we compare the likes of Yes, Bonzo Dog and similar aged performers, I somehow can’t imagine Axl Rose performing in a similar style when he’s in his 80s. The distinctive shrill shrieky vocals somehow won’t seem dignified emanating from an old man. But, while I’m not a fan out right, GNR are a band from my formative years and through the best of, or Greatest Hits release, I don’t need to venture further into the realms of their albums.

 

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Greatest Hits – Gipsy Kings [#554]

Gipsy_Kings_-_Greatest_Hits_Cover_ArtSpanish guitar wanking with France’s own Gypsy Kings. Yeah I didn’t know they were French either.

Having heard their version of Hotel California on the Big Lebowski soundtrack and already being familiar with chart topping hit Bamboleo I thought I’d punt their Greatest Hits CD because, even if I didn’t like all of their songs, I’d have some nice background music for when I held paella evenings.

Of course, the paella evenings may have stopped but the music still gets the old toes tapping and you can’t help wanting some chorizo.

 

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Greatest Hits – Falco [#553]

UnknownThese Greatest Hits albums feel almost never ending.

We’ve met tragic Austrian pop star Falco before on the Music Project back in December so I won’t labour the point about why he is present in my music collection, but for those readers new to the project in short, Falco’s Greatest Hits was added to my collection while I was searching for his third album Falco 3.

His hit Rock Me Amadeus features (because, lets face it, that was his “hit”) as does his other, less famous, “hit” Jeanny. Those two tracks aside, there are a couple of other tracks from Falco 3 and some of his other, not so remarkable albums. Of course, I must not forget that although he was only fleetingly popular in the UK, his unique brand of Euro-pop was much more popular on the continent. Which says a lot about why the UK keep failing to win Eurovision.

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Greatest Hits – Eurythmics [#552]

Eurythmics-GreatestHitsA compilation featuring the “best” of the Eurythmics.

I would categorise it in my collection as an “inherited” album. While the songs are like the musical equivalent of a time travelling De Lorean, in that while researching for this post every song I heard took me back in time to various stages of my childhood and youth, I’m not a fan.

I’ve been told I should be, having grown up at a time when the band was at its peak. Thing was, Annie Lennox always made me feel uncomfortable; I don’t know why, she just did. Dave Stewart did however feature again in my life soundtrack with his album Jute City (see here again in about 2 years) but ultimately, he too made me feel uneasy. So I guess with those feelings it was inevitable that I wouldn’t stray much further than the Greatest Hits, which, when added to a shuffled playlist for long car journeys, often has passengers singing along.

Which makes a change from the griping about all those weird bands I like.

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Greatest Hits – Aphrodite’s Child [#551]

Aphrodites Child Greatest Hits

Three bearded Greeks and an Egyptian perform their “greatest hits” from their three albums of which, I have one, 666.

Having only heard 666 before, when I first heard this album back in 2004, I was surprised by the other songs on the album. Aside from the tracks from 666 I’d already heard Rain and Tears and It’s Five O’Clock but had no idea they were Aphrodite’s Child songs. I had always thought they were Demis Roussos songs.

Anyway, it’s surprising how many “hits” a hardly heard of band have had and it frequently amuses me when I play people their songs and they exclaim, like me, they didn’t know it was by Aphrodite’s Child.

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Greatest – Duran Duran [#550]

Greatest - Duran DuranThe problem with releasing your “best of” when you’re still an active band is, you might still be an active band in another 20 years. Such is the case with eighties popper, Duran Duran. Thing is, they’re still chucking out the odd song still.

I wrote about the other Duran Duran Greatest Hits/Best of compilation, Decade  in July last year. Greatest is the addendum to that. Effectively, this is all the songs from the 1998 compilation with the 5 hit songs that followed.

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Great Expectations (Original Soundtrack) – Various Artists [#549]

Great Expectations Soundtrack Like the goth genre, I came to this film late. Had I come to the film back in the time it was released, my outlook on life may have changed subtly.

Following a childhood meeting with a menacing Robert De Niro, Ethan Hawke falls for Gwyneth Paltrow, and, thanks to a mysterious benefactor becomes a successful artist in New York. Lots of painting and nookie ensues.

As well as being an awesome adaptation of a thought provoking classic piece of literature, the soundtrack is also well presented with songs by contemporary bands such as Mono, Pulp, Reef  and Poe, coupled with contemporary artists such as Scott Weiland, Tori Amos, Duncan Sheik and Chris Cornell. All compiled deliciously in an angsty way.

In a pre-Twilight late 1990s, this movie was instrument in the blossoming of many a youth emerging from the fiction of a post teenage world into adulthood. Much in the same way that the BBC’s nineties soaparama This Life did. Sadly I was too busy with work and other life distractions to notice but as soon as I did, I was out buying the Soundtrack and waiting for the DVD of the film to drop in price.

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Great British Psychedelic Trip (Vols 1-3) – Various Artists [#548]

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 11.39.20A compilation of psychedelic music covering 1966 to 1970.

This is a relatively new addition to my music library and as a result I’m yet to form a reliable opinion on the songs therein. However, during the cursory listen given for the purpose of this entry I can reveal there are some very strange additions. It’s no wonder that some of the over 60s are so weird.

Songs with titles such as Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye by Timebox, Vacuum Cleaner by Tintern Abbey and In My Magic Garden by Tinkerbell’s Fairydust and bands with far out names like Virgin Sleep and The Crocheted Doughnut Ring all come together for a four hour trip through the weirder parts of the genre. Its easy to see how many of these bands influenced each other and how even the lesser known bands had some influence on those who would become superstars.

What else is interesting is how the bands all seem to have formed from various liasions and chance meetings. Like with the prog and Canterbury scenes, band members would swap bands, ideas, songs and even drugs. Some would go on to do great things, others would end their days in a bar in Liverpool bemoaning the fact that they “could have been famous man”. As an observer, I often think about how modern manufactured bands don’t seem to be interchangable. Ok you sometimes get “projects” and “collaborations” but you don’t see the likes of say,  some guy out of 1D joining up with someone out of Steps and someone out of Back Street Boys to form a mega supergroup.

I blame home taping.

 

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Grand Theft Auto (Original Soundtrack) [#546] & Grand Theft Auto: London (Original Soundtrack) [#547]

Possibly one of the best, well thought out and inventive game franchises began back in the late nineties with the release of Grand Theft Auto a game noted, not just for it’s violence and adult themes, for its soundtrack.

I spent many late evenings playing the game driving round the fictional cities of San Andreas, Liberty and Vice Cities, with the soundtrack blaring out to the annoyance of any neighbours. I even popped the CD from my Playstation into my CD player and ripped the soundtrack to cassette to listen to while on the bus or on foot. A cassette that joined me later in my car. A cassette I regret making because, as we all know, home taping killed music (and computer games).

Indeed, when I was able to do the same to the soundtrack of the less than successful London themed spin-off, I further damaged the whole industry which, as we now know, is worthless.

While the original game’s soundtrack was inventive with a variety of music genres parodied by the game’s designers with original songs by fictional bands such as Slumpussy’s Gangster Friday and The Ballad of Chapped Lips Calhoon by Sideways Hank O Malley and Alabama Bible Boys , the London spin-off existed as a blend of 60’s pastiches without the same wicked streak of humour. As a result I felt a little let down by the quality and lack of attention to detail that went into the spin-off game.

The London spin-off was to be a harbinger of things to come, the soundtracks for sequels to the game, like San Andrea, GTA IV and V all relied heavily on existing real music by real bands. The humorous sly digs at the music industry lacking saved only by the sly digs at the radio advertising industry.

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The Grand Design – Edenbridge [#545]

Edenbridge_-_The_Grand_DesignTowards the end of my exploration of the Scandinavian operatic goth metal movement of the late nineties and early noughties, and before branching out down the Ayreon/Gathering path, I uncovered an Austrian band called Edenbridge. Pretty much a Nightwish clone but with better pronunciation of English.

The Grand Design is their fifth studio album following the success of Shine. By this time, I was a little bored of the whole genre. There’s only so many Valkyries you can put up with and with middle age approaching, the constant chuggachugga guitar became a little puerile after a bit. As well, there was a kind of…I dunno…a Sandy Denny quality to the sound.

After some careful consideration, I had a purge of music in September and many Edenbridge albums didn’t make the cut. This one survived purely because it was the first of theirs I’d heard and because Evermore is not a bad song.

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Gothic Spleens – Dead Can Dance [#544]

UnknownAs we finally come out of the (reduced) gothic compilation portion of the project, we see the peaks of “Greatest Hits” ahead of us but until then there are a few more albums we need to visit.

Gothic Spleens is another bootleg album for Neoclassical/Goth group Dead Can Dance. Recorded from a live radio broadcast from Hamburg’s  Musikhalle in 1990. It has a similar track listing to Golden Age but certainly doesn’t disappoint. Even if we’ve heard it all before.

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Gothic Erotica – Various Artists [#543]

41821Z2JRZLAnother gothic compilation. This time with a sleezy kink feel to the songs. Or so it’s suggested by the albums title. I’ve been more aroused sat at the back of the 81 bus than the music in this compilation.

That aside, it’s not a bad compilation. Lots of old and new favourites turn up to the mix including Mephisto Waltz, Nico, The Mission and Bauhaus. There are also some good covers too, Brix Smith does a version of Bowie’s Space Oddity, Ghost Dance do a version of the Yardbird’s Heart Full of SoulBauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead is given the Electric Hellfire Club treatment and Patti Smith Group’s Because the Night is reimagined by Beki Bondage.

Some songs in the compilation I can do without but it’s not something I could delete at this moment in time.

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Goth Stuff – Various Artists [#542]

This is an unusual compilation, and it is one that guided my ears in the direction I took when exploring the genre. It’s an unofficial compilation and, like all good music, not available in the shops. More of a mix tape someone put out onto the wibbly wobbly web back in the nineties.

The first track is Hoquetus I-VII by an unknown composer and by the third track, a Saltarello  also by an unknown composer, it starts to become clear that the compiler is trying to take the listener through their interpretation of goth music through the ages. Soon we hear Minstrel Hall by Blackmore’s Night. Not exactly goth but dabbling with medievalism, nicely leading us into track two, 18th Century Gypsy Music by Bubak and Hungaricus. Layers of folk influences building up. By the time we reach midway point, we are already being tricked into believing that Ataraxia’s Canzona is a faithful reproduction of a old classical piece.

Of course it’s not. But by this time you don’t care. Further tracks of the acoustic, goth, medieval theme float past including Eld’s interpretation of Death in June’s Death of the West, songs by Ordo Equitum Solis and Eden  also don’t seem out of place. The cherry on the top being Bauhaus‘ King Volcano. 

I’m still fond of this compilation, even though, in all honesty, I am missing a number of tracks from  the original compilation. Moreover, this album also saw me eager to discover more about bands like Ordo Equitum Solis, Blackmore’s Night  and Eden. Bands I would never have heard of if it had not been for illegal downloads of music from unregulated sources.

Of course, like home taping before it, downloading music illegally was the death of music and we know today how empty our lives have become because  music was killed.

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Goth Electro Tribute to Depeche Mode – Various Artists [#541]

UnknownAnother tribute compilation album featuring artists nobody has heard of covering a band people have heard of.

Today, Goth Electro bands mostly murder 12 classic Depeche Mode songs but surprisingly, I’m willing to reduce the sentence to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Or maybe even just a “slap on the wrist don’t do it again” common assault charge.

Because on about fifth listen, some of the tracks actually work. It’s that age old thing of music suiting the environment and situation. Here I am, listening to the album in bed, late, alone at night while Mrs Gnomepants is out at an Ezio gig, and it’s kind of fitting.

Goth electro is not my favourite gothic sub-genre by any means. It’s a little too cyberpunk for me, wet streets, stupid hair styles and skin-tight plastic clothes in a post industrial futuristic vampire nightmare. This album is that, only with Depeche Mode.

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Goth Box – Various Artists [#540]

R-427454-1292370992.jpegHad I started this project at “G” back in 2012, at this point we would be at Gothic Compilation Vol 342. But rather than shed even more readership, I opted to weed out those compilations and reduced them to  the selection that follows.

Today’s album, four volumes, G, O, T and H. In a box. Goth Box. Genius. Made up of four volumes, it is a showcase compilation of gothic artists from Europe featuring artists such as Inkubus Sukkubus, Big Electric Cat, Bauhaus, Mephisto Waltz, Lycia, Love is Colder Than Death and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

I really like this compilation. It scares me like all good goth music should, in that I’m not entirely sure what it is I like about it all. It’s a compilation that I dip into for a bit, then quickly dip out of. The arrangement features gothic music from most of the goth subgenres including cybergoth, fluffy goth and neoclassical goth across the decades. There’s something for every wanna be goth, though there are exceptions and omissions that I, personally, would have included had I been compiling the compilation.

The compilation is massive, coming in at a whopping sixty tracks long and would make the perfect gift for any wannabe goth or moody teenager looking to discover their own identity.  Rather than list the tracks and artists featured,I’ve opted to let you discover the album yourself through the wonders of Amazon. 

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