Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Mission - Carved In Sand - 1990

The Mission (or The Mission UK as they're often called here, to avoid conflict with an existing R&B group) sprung out of The Sisters of Mercy, who were the torchbearer for goth rock in the 1980s. The Mission was interested in still doing goth rock, but they definitely wanted to make it a little more accessible and broaden the scope. (Also, apparently Sisters of Mercy founder Andrew Eldritch was a little hard to work with. And, keep in mind, SoM haven't put out a new album since 1990, but they've still gone on tour regularly. Take that for whatever you will.)

When the members of The Mission struck out on their own, they were going to originally call their band "The Sisterhood," but were "strongly discouraged" from doing so by Eldritch, and Mission keystone Wayne Hussey has said in interviews since then that the Sisterhood name was a bad idea, and he wished they'd never even tried it. So they were rechristened The Mission. The point of both names was to make it clear that they weren't going to be veering too far from the the touchstones they'd already helped establish in The Sisters of Mercy.

I remember I picked up "Carved In Sand" on the basis of the cover from the Antiquarium, the used music/book store in downtown Omaha, on cassette in 1991, and I found the sound of it fascinating. It's goth rock, most certainly, but it's also not doom'n'gloom like I sort of expected goth rock to be. I'm not sure why I thought all goth rock would be utterly depressing and unlistenable, but I was delighted to find that it was catchy.

"Butterfly On A Wheel" was the first single from the album, and it's easy to see why. While it has that big, expansive sound that The Mission was known for, there's an accessibility to it, and the synths almost make it sound like a bleaker version of Simple Minds.

The big track, though, was "Deliverance," which felt like it was picking right up from some of the other tracks that the guys in The Mission had helped put together at The Sisters of Mercy. (In fact, I actually worked backwards, finding out about SoM from The Mission.) "Deliverance" feels like it's the son of the classic SoM track "Dominion," with a steady kick beat and and guitars that purr like a V6 engine roaring down the highway.

The Mission are still together as a band, and just put out the great "The Brightest Light" last year, and they're still in the same vein they've always been, and that's just fine. There aren't a whole lot of people making this kind of music, maybe because they just don't think they can do it better than The Mission. Maybe they're right...

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