This Friday, April 8th, sees the release of Daniel Ash’s first studio album since 2002’s criminally underrated S/T album. This one is called Stripped. It features new renditions of some classic [and a lot of not-quite-classic] Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, and Love and Rockets songs. It’s described as “’re-takes’ done in a style that resembles dub-step, variations of EDM, Atmospheric and Ambient ‘A-La Brian Eno Meets Bowie,’” which is, frankly, the most horrifying concept I’ve had to grapple with all year… However, it is really not that at all… and it is quite good… quite quite good, even…
The album’s biggest track, Love and Rockets’ “So Alive,” which I was prepared for the desecration of, appears in a form that I daresay is even cooler than the original, as a lushly sleazy ethereal wave lounge tune, sprinkled with a smattering of blips and glitches. And on the album’s second most iconic track, Bauhaus’ ode to blow, “Slice of Life,” the glitchiness is thrown into overdrive, reimagining the song as an anthem in the golden age of industrial, which you would most likely assume to be the work of Pigface.
The truth of it is that none of the songs really sound all that different from their originals and this admittedly unbalanced selection of songs is a lovely reminder of the subversive beauty of many songs that most of us haven’t likely thought about any time recently, like Tones on Tails’ “OK, This Is The Pops” and latter-era Love and Rockets mild masterpiece “Too Much Choice,” which really does ring of the blowiest era of Bowie. The album also features one never-before-released song, “Come On,” which is reminiscent of that brief moment in the mid-‘90s when house music was finding an audience amongst angsty alt rockers.
While the album sounds more along the lines of rivethead remixes of a bizarre selection of tunes from Ash’s back catalogue, the most impressive thing about it may be that Daniel has redone every track, taking on the duties of lead vocals and nearly every other instrument to be played on the record, with just a bit of help from friends, like Puscifer’s Mat Mitchell and She Wants Revenge’s Adam Bravin. So while this project may sound a bit trainwrecky on paper, it has actually proven to be one of the year’s best releases, albeit a bit tragic, as the competent-as-ever, nearly-60, Ash reminds us the so many of the greatest sonic subcultures of recent history are now primarily thought of in the past tense.