I have frequently been asked (or accused in one case) if I was a Goth over the years because I wear a lot of black, enjoy a good murder/suicide story and generally have a fondness for other people’s anguish. That and I love Halloween.
Apparently being a bitchy psychopath and a Goth is the same thing?
If you know anything about goth then you know it’s not a creepy death loving thing. Goth is usually an aesthetic thing. The movement of Gothic music, fashion and so forth was born around the same time as punk music. England was a special place in the 70’s and 80’s. It also has roots in Victorian aesthetics, much like Lolita and Steampunk. There are themes of death, darkness and angst within the Goth scene. Just… not in the same way I like them. I’m- sadly- more like Hugo Strange in Gotham when it comes to the human suffering thing. I want to know why people suffer more than anything. Also, I would make a terrible Goth in the fashion sense. It’s just too much work and my eye liner game is non-existent. Goths look so good though. So good.
However, there are a lot of things within the Goth subculture that I totally enjoy. One particular item is an artist that will be the focus of this piece. Aurelio Voltaire Hernandez is a Cuban-American musician most commonly known by the handle Voltaire. Although the last few years have seen him going by the name Aurelio Voltaire. He’s often classified as a goth artist because of the thematic nature of his music and look. He wears a lot of black, writes a lot of dark songs and sometimes looks like the devil (check out Almost Human). Although at the same time he’s not so easy to pin down as goth. There’s the country album he did to refute his apparent gothness. There’s also the Star Trek album too. And the song where he has sex with a bunch of Stormtroopers… yeah, Voltaire is one of us. A geek.
Musically, Voltaire is a very diverse artist. His music can be defined as goth or even alternative rock to that one country album to, in my opinion, folk. A lot of his songs sound very European folk-with-a-goth-twist to me. It may be the heavy use of violins in many of the songs that give me that impression. He is also very diverse within his own music. Some of the songs are very heavy, such as The Chosen or Anastasia, to ridiculous and humorous, like Brains or The Vampire Club. Voltaire has released eleven albums from The Devil’s Bris (my personal favourite) to Raised by Bats. Some of the albums are darker and some are lighter and one is called Bitrekual. That one is all Star Wars, Star Trek and sex.
Anyway, let’s talk about some of these amazing songs!
The Chosen is hands down my favourite Voltaire song. It’s dark, moody and has a theme that makes my inner psychologist go “I wanna analyze this and write papers and do a case study!” The Chosen seems to be the tale of a young man with severe mental health issues. He has delusions and hear voices that suggest schizophrenia. As well, there’s a history of unhealthy sexual relationships (“First time I had sex I was three. First time consenting was thirteen”) and a potentially abusive mother. I always get the impression that the narrator is about to kill someone because the voices in his head told him too. It’s very mournful and sad at its heart.
Let’s just look at the first verse:
Last night a moth came to my bed, And filled my tired weary head, With horrid tales of you, I can’t believe it’s true. But then the lamp shade smiled at me, And it said, “Believe,” it said, “believe.” I want you to know it’s nothing personal
What’s not to love? It’s already full of story. Firstly, it invokes the essence of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” with the moth coming to tell tales. Then there is the suggestion of mental illness with the talking moth and lamp. Finally, there are the narrator’s own regrets. He has to do what he is going to do because of something about the other person. Yet he doesn’t want to and it’s “nothing personal.” The violins within the piece are slow, mournful and the dominant sound within the piece. There is something about classical string instruments that add a heavy air of solemnness to a piece. Voltaire himself sings like he’s just having a normal conversation. The character he is playing is so clearly troubled and yet he states very matter-of-fact the way he understands his current situation. It is what it is and he must take the other’s life in his hands.
This one is from the same album as The Chosen. It is not anything like the Chosen though. It’s light-hearted and fun. This is also one of Mad Maddox’s favourites and probably the first Voltaire song either of us ever heard. I first heard it in a fan video of the Master from the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who.
This is a song about a guy who does the Devil’s dirty work when the Devil himself is unavailable but they don’t need Death to go out to kill anyone. Once again it has the use of violins. This time, however, the violins give the song more of that European/Gypsy kind of folk music feeling. The music is upbeat and Voltaire just sounds so pleased with himself. So, so very pleased with himself. There is a point within the song where it takes a turn to the somber but then our story teller laughs and reveals that he was just playing a joke on the audience. Of course he loves being evil!
Happy Birthday my olde friend. It seems this horror show will never end. Any moment’s your last breath, Here is to another day closer to death.
Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend) is one of the songs that girlpuck enjoys. Although Mad and I have probably put the video link on many a person’s facebook page when their birthday has come around. This is another one of Voltaire more upbeat songs and it even has a music video! The video is just one big birthday party for a skeleton man but it looks like a lot of fun. The song is basically about a dude that is so old that their life is a fucking shit show. They have arthritis and their teeth could fall out at any time and they are an alcoholic… but this is a party god-dammitt! It’s super upbeat and everyone is having a good time. After all, aren’t all birthdays just a big fun celebration of aging and the inevitable fact of death?
There are so many more songs to look at as well. I really recommend checking Voltaire out.
PS: Top Three Favourite songs!
- The Chosen
- Almost Human
- Accordian Player
- Happy Birthday (My Olde Friend)
- Zombie Prostitute
- This Ship’s Going Down
- When You’re Evil
- The Vampire Club