It could be the factor of my age, or of travel marketing or whatever, but when I think of California it’s always sun and surf or plain Southwest heat. It’s never of the darkness and existential emptiness of groups like Drab Majesty or others. It’s always of light, poppy sounds and rarely Coldwave or even punk and cities like Los Angeles have probably produced as much darkness as light. I know that, but still…
Of course, learning that this album was inspired by the HEAVENS GATE SUICIDE CULT piqued my interest. It’s not a question of interest in suicide but it’s the same cognitive dissonance perhaps as the mild surprise that Coldwave bands exist there in the sun. California is famous for death cults and suicide cults. Hell, Charles Manson and all that… It’s a testament to the talents of the marketing dweebs really that you almost have to live there to know just how wrong something is that the region produces such detachment and insanity.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the music. It’s another in my recent parade of sounds that have bubbled up from the 1980s. There was a perpetual night in that decade and the sun never really came up over the horizon to illuminate or eliminate it. This is a worldwide phenomenon apparently if one is to go by what I’ve found all over the internet over the last few months. It’s not as globally pervasive as hip hop or the more generic pop sounds but it has remained with us. I imagine if I check in in 20 years, provided I’m here in 20 years, there will still be Coldwave. Yes, I’m growing more comfortable with that blanket term for the sounds. It works better than postpunk or god forbid New Wave.
On the subject of suicide or death cults though, it’s more a question of context, isn’t it? People enlist in the army and go willingly to die on the other side of the world from home in the name of god and country. It seems to me that nationalism of any ilk is a suicide cult. We call it defense or self-defense but it sure seems to me that we spilled a lot of blood in Iraq and Afghanistan for some pretty specious reasons. A lot of men and women left life and limb(s) on foreign soil in the name of dodgy philosophy and sense of place. It’s definitely a sense of context. Why did the Manson Family kill? I don’t know but why did guys go willingly to Viet Nam? Everybody wants something to believe in and the more the commitment the more the risk and vice versa. You want to prove your devotion? Kill or die for it. Or kill AND die. Blah.
Ask the questions and tell the story and that seems to be where Drab Majesty comes in with this album. It’s funny that it’s more surprising to me still that it’s from California than it is that Deb Demure chose the subject.
I wonder if one day I’m going to go back over these Radio Quarantine posts and listen to the music and wonder what the fuck I was thinking. We’ll see.