Gothic Text files Death In June

Death In June

(version 1.0)

This post is intended to provide perhaps a more thorough overview of Death In June for those interested in where to start, or those who have a few releases already but find Stewart's all-encompassing discography a bit overwhelming... This is by no means an authoritative document and comprises about a 50/50 mix of fact and opinion. Discussion/new information welcome!

Basic History

Death in June formed sometime around 1980-1981 in the wake of the dissolution of Crisis. Douglas Pearce and Tony Wakeford were leftover from Crisis; Patrick Leagas/O'Kill was the other addition. By the time of "Nada" Tony Wakeford had left, presumably because Douglas wanted to explore different types of musical expression. He is quite active today as Sol Invictus. Anyway, by this time Douglas had befriended some of the early PTV crowd (most notably David Tibet, who formed Current 93 in 1983). By the time the group had realigned, and issued forth the wonderful Nada, Patrick Leagas supposedly "ran out of steam" and then left to become Six(th) Comm. After this Douglas began associating quite heavily with the entire World Serpent crowd (Tibet, John Balance, Rose McDowall, Boyd Rice) although to my knowledge Death In June has never worked with Steven Stapleton, Michael Cashmore, or Peter Christopherson. Since then Douglas has utilized the talents of his friends to make Death In June into a pure manifestation of his own thoughts and visions, with variable success weighted towards most recent material. Death In June should be of interest to anyone who likes Dead Can Dance, Coil, Current 93, etc.

Main Albums

1983 - The Guilty Have No Pride
Start with a basic Joy Division-sounding base ... add timpani, trumpet and all kinds of interesting basslines and you have early Death In June. Vocalists basically declaim enigmatic lyrics over this thunderous and sometimes overbearing onslaught. Rating: 4/5

1984 - Burial
5 extra studio songs plus live side. Haven't heard, but am kicking myself for not getting this for $20 when I saw it last summer!

1985 - Nada!
Here matters take a more electronic/industrial twist, while paradoxically also including plenty of folk guitar and chant tapes. The entirety is executed with such conviction and power that Nada! is among my top five works of all time (by anybody!) Rating: 5+/5

1986 - Night and Fog
Supposedly post-Nada live album. Have seen for $40.

1986 - The World That Summer
Although Douglas has remarked quite positively about the liberating influence of Patrick's departure, the content here suggests otherwise. There are some worthwhile tracks, but most of the (double) album floats along moodily without achieving much in terms of intensity or conviction. Because there are some redeeming features, I would recommend this, but only after you've picked up everything else. Rating: 2/5

1987 - Brown Book
This album finds the group doing fully-developed folk music, with wonderfully catchy melodies and nice duets with Rose McDowall. However, the lyrical content is not for the humorless/squeamish. Rating: 2.5/5 (due to ever-diminished "accessability")

1987 - Oh How We Laughed
Live document form 1982. Supposedly rather primitive, "sounds like Joy Division live"...

1989 - The Wall of Sacrifice
Hopefully this is supposed to be very good, including some major (albeit silly) contributions from Boyd Rice. I'll get this when I can cough up the $25 for another Death In June album. I've heard "Hullo Angel" as it appears on Current 93 "Crooked Crosses..." and with that I am quite impressed.

1989 - 93 Dead Sunwheels
Remixes from Nada. Have yet to purchase. Supposed to include many samples from "The Prisoner" tv series, according to Douglas.

1992 - But, What Ends When the Symbols Shatter
This album finds much more diverse "folk" instrumentation than any previous, employing both old (David Tibet) and new (James Mannox) World Serpent assistance. Lyrics show greater insight and depth than ever before, addressing critically the fate of Man (and the Nietzchean superman) in the modern world. A powerful, enticing masterpiece - will leave you constantly thinking days after each listen. Rating: 5/5

1993 - Something is Coming
Another thing I have yet to pick up - supposedly a live document of the 1992 Croatian tour plus some compiled studio stuff. If suddenly tommorow I found myself $100 richer I would actually get some more of this stuff!!


Note on CD rereleases

All the aforementioned material exists on CD except the "Burial" and "Night and Fog" albums. Death In June are quite generous as to including associated singles, b-sides etc. along with rerelease of each album. Becuase of this, there is really no way to issue "The World That Summer" on a single CD, so they decided to divide the tracks, including remixes etc. from this and Brown Book on two separate CD's, "The Corn Years" and "Cathedral of Tears". To make things more confusing, a "Cathedral of Tears" CDS also exists.

A Quick Note on Related Projects

Current 93
Of all "related projects" I would recommend Current 93 the most. Their work ranges from moody folk music to intense catacomb screams. Most of it is very silly while also taking a serious hold of your emotions and making you think about all kinds of things. David Tibet's poetry as of late has been getting even better, and should be read both as a part of the music and on its own as "serious" literary work. Since I own almost all of their albums, I will prepare a complete discography and a review listing very much like this one sometime in the future. As far as albums go, I'd recommend everything except Earth Covers Earth. Steven Stapleton of NWW has a major hand in most C93 projects.

Sol Invictus
Tony Wakeford makes rather heavy, gloomy folk music with all kinds of guitars and effects, flute, and cello. Very much worth checking into; I'd recommend both "Trees in Winter" and "Killing Tide." Actually, if you desire even more "experimental" stuff, he has an excellent collaboration with Steven (NWW) called "Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish".

Coil
I'm assuming if you're reading this you already know a great deal about Coil. Their early releases (Scatology, Horse Rotovator) would probably be of greater interest, as lately they've been trafficking in the techno stuff (albeit with much greater success that PTV!) New album "Angelic Conversation" due out 3/7. Finally!

Sixth Comm
I don't know much about this group except that it must be good, for Patrick made such wonderful contributions (IMHO) to Death In June. As of late, he's really gotten into the Norse pagan stuff; Freya Aswynn, who is a leading light in this realm, is a major contributor. I have only the "Fruits of Yggdrasil" CD, which is basically Freya reading selections from the Edda over Patrick's musical interpretation. The only problem is while the music is quite good, it is very low in the mix, and I have a limited and waning interest in the Norse stuff. If anyone can recommend a good place to start for some early 6th comm material (without Freya) please tell me as I cannot afford to just buy random stuff. Unlike some people I know...

Boyd Rice/NON
Used to be a major innovator in the industrial noise scene (refer to "Industrial Culture Handbook" for cool interview, has since IMHO degenerated into silliness. You might try asking somebody who is more of a fan...

(was this supposed to be short???)


References
For further reference, please see the recent Propaganda article posted by Kenneth Ruiz (in case you missed it, it's on ftp.maths.tcd.ie in /pub/music/gothic/interviews...). And, of course, Stewart Tame's excellent "Shoddy Death In June Discography" which he updates and posts every so often. I always keep the latest copy.


Harvey D. Thornburg

hthornbu@osiris.ac.hmc.edu


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