Bauhaus – Mask (1981): Review

mask

Produced by Bauhaus
Label – Beggars Banquet

“Mask”, the second long player from Northampton gloom exponents Bauhaus, shows a development that incorporated funk and dance grooves to their signature gothic squall. The fractured strains of Daniel Ash’s guitar and thudding David J Haskins bass lines that first appeared on their debut “In The Flat Field” remain, however the record bares down to the sparsest arrangements, intentionally exaggerating the dark atmospherics. In addition, the band introduced primitive keyboard and saxophone sounds to enhance the sonic palette. It’s also markedly slower paced than its predecessor, which emphasizes the foreboding sense of gloom.

bauhaus

On the whole though, “Mask” falls short in comparison to “In The Flat Field”. One understands the emphasis on identifying themselves by increasing both instrumentation and style, but frankly the creative substance isn’t as consistent and as a result only rarely hits the highs (or lows) they’re attempting to achieve. In addition, it sometimes feels that the record is dreadfully under produced, relying far too heavily on Haskins’ bass to maintain structure. One could accept its raw appeal had this been advertised as a demo recording, but some of the material feels half finished, and no amount of doom laden decadence can overcome it. That said, the pacier “Passion Of Lovers” and the funky “Kick In The Eye” show that Bauhaus could still produce some interesting singles. The spoken word nonsense of “Of Lillies And Remains” feels like an unfunny in joke; and songs like “In Fear Of Fear” and “Muscle In Plastic” are generic poses, without any lasting depth.

Their idealistic pursuits into funereal soundscapes often become soporific, cocooned in a void that’s too po-faced to allow a hint of reciprocal appreciation. They set their agenda on “Mask”, and unfortunately it’s tough to follow.

6/10

Track Rating
1 – Hair Of The Dog (6)
2 – The Passion Of Lovers (7)
3 – Of Lillies And Remains (4)
4 – Dancing (6)
5 – Hollow Hills (5)
6 – Kick In The Eye (7)
7 – In Fear Of Fear (5)
8 – Muscle In Plastic (4)
9 – The Man With The X-Ray Eyes (5)
10 – Mask (6)

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