Tuesday 2 January 2018

Book Review: Kevin Haskins – 'Bauhaus – Undead – The Visual History and Legacy of Bauhaus'


Bauhaus were undeniably one of the pioneering forces behind what would come to be known as Gothic Rock. Their unique take on the post-punk sound in inspiration from dada and German Expressionism made for an incendiary and theatrical stage show that elevated them to mythical status. A status that has remained intact, so much so that when the band reunited for the first time in the late 1990s their audience had substantially grown, and continues to based on the strength of the albums and singles made in their initial five-year span.

Founding member and drummer of the band Kevin Haskins not only (alongside bassist and brother David) provided the rhythmic backbone of the band, but has also become it's self-appointed curator, collecting everything from those early years through to the band's last run together. The result of which is this substantial visual document that includes everything from early “Local Band Makes Good” articles from their local newspaper, handmade flyers by the band, backstage passes, photographs from his personal collection, ticket stubs, band artwork, letters, set lists, contracts, band sketches, tour itineraries (that include band member doodles), fan club material, pins, hand written lyrics, invoices, master tapes, all the way down to the original Wasp synthesizer used on their recordings and live shows.

The coffee table book is a fitting format for anything related to the band, who were just as much an aesthetic movement as they were a band. Haskins has worked with the design team of Jeff Anderson of Artist In Residence and Donny Phillips and Kaylee Carrington of KIHL Studio to create a high-quality tome worthy of their art school origins that houses a visual journey from the band's 1978 inception to their final reformation for 2005's Coachella festival alongside Nine Inch Nails.

The collection is reproduced beautifully with documents scanned perfectly and 3D objects such as badges photographed with great care and attention to detail. This portion of the production of the book must have been a monumental undertaking and required some serious and very careful hours. And that's before the book is even assembled.

As a visually orientated book the narrative is mainly provided by the collection itself with brief notes and anecdotes recorded in places to expand on pivotal moments in the band's history such as their first music video for 'Telegram Sam', recording live sessions for legendary radio DJ John Peel, playing at the legendary Haçienda club in Manchester, and of course their triumphant swansong at the Coachella Festival.

This a must for any fan of Bauhaus. The ultimate collector's item full of rarities and behind the scenes insights into the band. Even the book itself is a work of art in it's own right. A legacy piece that is part visual biography and part art book, truly befitting a band such as Bauhaus. This will not be a piece that has much appeal beyond the hardcore fans of the band. But for those fans this is an elegant and essential book that has been put together with care and attention.

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