I listened to the Sisters Of Mercy’s Floodland on my walk home today. It was my Christmas present to myself, a digital download from Amazon.
I used to have the CD–it was one of the first CDs I ever bought, actually, when it came out in 1987. I loaned to a friend of mine, and it was in his van when the van was stolen. I finally got around to replacing it last night.
Floodland is one of the most ambitiously engineered albums of all time. Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters worked with Jim Steinman (probably most famous for writing and producing Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell).
Acoustically, Floodland is almost painfully complex. It is a tapestry of overlaid tracks, woven to build up a panmelodeon of sound. Eldritch played almost all of the music himself, on guitar and a selection of synths and drum machines. Patricia Morrison (late of Gun Club) laid down some bass lines, and a couple of studio musicians filled in here and there, but mostly this is the work of one man straining to push the available technology to its limit.
The result, in my opinion, is a work of genius. It’s not without it’s flaws, no art ever is, but the technical execution is damned near perfect. Personally, I think some of the tracks are drawn out too long (one is reminded of Phillip Glass towards the end of “This Corrosion”, and not in a good way) and some of Jim Steinman’s choral arraignments border on the cloying (again, I’m thinking of “This Corrosion”.)
Nonetheless, it’s a very inspiring work. Eldritch created a work that stands the test of time, that I feel transcends the pigeonhole of “Goth Rock”–quite an accomplishment. It was re-released in a remastered edition in 2006 (the same year that Suixsie and The Banshees signaled the death of Goth by recording the end title song for Sony’s animated feature Monster House.)
The message of Floodland is still as clear to me as when I first heard it when I was in my 20’s, and even more important now.
Be true to your art.