Between the blue iris and the black of pupil is a perfect ring of white. Peter Murphy is of all three colors, but at heart and burning harder than the rest is that radiant pure non-color.
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It finds its reflection and resonance in the stark intensity of German expressionist chiaroscuro lighting, adopted and put to great effect by that entity of which we both form a part, known as Bauhaus.
It radiates outwards from the stellar heat of the performance space which holds an audience in thrall. It reverberates in union with the walls of Mecca and the sanctified cloth of Muslim garb.
It is the color that obliterates all other color. Its scintillant flood drowns out the dark. It is the first and the last. The very molten core.
Peter Murphy is a self contained pantheon of gods. He exhibits qualities that are, in turn, Dionysian, Apollonian, and Mercurial. At times he walks in step with angels, though on occasion a darker path is traversed. Demons rise to draw his blood, a black panther licks at it's trail.
This creature is his dream stalker, archetypal symbol of the nightside of ego, a sensual monster who's nose blooms with the fragrance of pungent floral aromas, the beguiling lure to ensnare its besotted prey.
When Murphy reads the boards, it is an act of possession. I have stood next to him on stages of the world and felt the ferocity of psychic demarcation. - Again a big cat comes to mind and the emission of a potent territorial spray marking out the center of the stage (his stage!) which, by definition, is wherever he happens to be at the time! That space becomes a vortex of primal force, a black hole of impacted energy into which one is either sucked, under violent protest; or tenderly allowed to enter, in order to receive the blessed kiss of the Byronic mutant king.
Living up to the popular mythic connotation of his family name, Mr. Murphy has something of the roaring boy about him. Those eyes again, full of Celtic spark and up the craik, and as close to lunacy as any O'Toole or Wilde, though softened into sublimation now, in quest of sufi gold.
Flowers and razors are conjured from the sleeves from his elegant dandy's coat, and it is always down to the luck of the draw or lunar phase, as to which of these you will get, often a mixture of both, but for every cut there is the balm of song, delivered in that extraordinarily sonorous voice. A voice which can purr, adrip with emollient honeyed sights; then, in an instant, turn to curdle the life's blood of the at endangered species known as the front row - the back row, come to that! It is the type of voice that is seldom heard in these electric days, a throwback to the gaslit era and the glory days of the traditional actor/manager of Shakespearean line. The unamplified oration that boomed from beneath the velvet slouch brimmed hat of Sir Edmond Kean and his exalted ilk. It is a voice that demands attention and always, always gets it. It is a Voice.
The first time I ever saw Peter, I was immediately struck by his unselfconscious natural grace and charismatic charm.
"What do you think?" asked a young Daniel Ash, referring to this nascent star.
"He's solid gold!" I replied, "solid gold!"
Standing next to Peter over the four years that followed that initial meeting, I was able to catch some of that gold dust and on occasion, throw a little of it back, an inspiring transaction that has been rekindled now in these halcyon days of resurrection, and so to the future and the glittering promise of splendid things to come, like the diamond fire glint in that harlequin's eye of blue and black and white.
New York, 1998
"I'd been grappling with the Bauhaus skeleton for 15 years--it was partly a denial, and partly not wanting to ruin something that had an energy and a chemistry that I thought was impossible to reclaim, or *recall*. Getting Bauhaus together again was like an internal explosion: This is who I am, this is what I've done, and contrary to my reservations Bauhaus was/is no B-Movie horror flick that some believed it to be. And I was completely confident that I still had something to say as a solo artist."
So declares Peter Murphy, who in July of 1998 reunited with his former Bauhaus mates, David J, Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins, for perhaps *the* musical event of the year: the Bauhaus Resurrection, which kicked off with 4 sold out shows in Los Angeles where the group performed before more than 11,000 people. Onstage with Bauhaus for the first time since the pioneering band's all-too-premature breakup in 1983, Murphy's incredible, almost super human confidence was evident in his every princely move. Seizing hold of a bare-bulb light fixture to cast a stark shaft of light across the aquiline profile immortalized in a famous Maxell print ad, slinking across the stage like a sinewy Siamese, resplendent in cape and turban during the harrowing epic finale of "Bela Lugosi's Dead," he was keenly aware of his power over the awestruck audience, and he wielded it expertly.
This cunning confidence permeates Murphy's *Recall* EP, which was recorded at Seattle's Studio X during a blinding six-day burst of creativity immediately following these already legendary L.A. concerts. "I had an enormous amount of energy during the initial Bauhaus reunion period working up to the Palladium shows, and it carried on over to that recording," asserts Murphy. His first release since 1995's *Cascade*, *Recall* is a heady mix of the best elements from Murphy's past, present and future, described by Murphy as "reminding people of where I've been, what is out there, what my legacy is."
The lasting power of that legacy is proven by *Recall*'s two radical remakes of solo Murphy classics--"Roll Call" (retitled "Roll Call-Recall"), from his 1990 breakthrough album *Deep*, and "Indigo Eyes," from 1988's *Love Hysteria*--which, close to a decade later, still possess what Murphy calls "an eternal quality." "Roll Call," he says, "really works well lyrically and thematically, as well as it ever did. And 'Indigo Eyes' proves to be a very beautiful song; I've made a very sort of oddly fashionable version of it that also has a very timeless side to it, almost like a French torch song. It's one of those songs that I would hear and want to cover; this is my cover version of my own song, as it were."
Murphy has always worked his darkly compelling magic when covering other artists' songs (Bauhaus's renditions of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust," Eno's "Third Uncle" and T. Rex's "Telegram Sam"; his solo takes on Magazine's "The Light Pours Out Of Me" and Pere Ubu's "Final Solution"), and his results are no less staggering when reinterpreting his own material. But *Recall* also features another cover song of sorts: the subtly ominous "Big Love Of A Tiny Fool," which is actually a classic by the veteran Turkish Mick Jagger-like Mashar Alanson (of the band MFO), with new English-language lyrics penned by Murphy. Another track that reveals the cultural influence of Turkey, where Murphy has lived with his wife and two children since 1992, is the hypnotic and transporting "Surrendered," featuring other worldly vocals by Murphy's Arabic teacher Shengul that stunningly complement his own famously rich and expressive baritone.
Credited with helping shape *Recall*'s "more bare, quasi-electronic" sound are Sascha Konietzko, Bill Rieflin and Tim Skold of KMFDM fame. Murphy, who has previously worked with techno-savvy producers/remixers like Pascal Gabriel (Bomb The Bass, New Order, EMF, Jimmy Somerville) and Simon Rogers (the Fall, Lightning Seeds, Armand Van Helden, Grace Jones), chose to work with the KMFDM production team purely on "instinct, an almost psychic, intuitive level. And it turned out my instinct was right." (This instinct was further confirmed when he discovered that Rieflin owned the almost obsolete 12-track audio machine needed to use Shengul's vocal recordings.) "It was probably the most powerful, exciting sessions that I've worked on--even compared to a Bauhaus album session or the best of the Peter Murphy sessions because for the first time, I was leading it from the center. There was an incredible amount of certainty to it. "That Murphy's place in musical history as an avant-garde innovator is already secure is certain as well. *The New York Times* recently rightfully dubbed Bauhaus the "forerunner of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson," and Murphy's post-Bauhaus output, both with ex-Japan bassist Mick Karn in the short-lived but renowned atmospheric duo Dalis Car and as a solo artist, has been ageless and intriguing. But with the Bauhaus Resurrection revitalizing public interest as well as his own artistic passion, 1998 marks the beginning of a vital new phase in Murphy's two-decade career. As Murphy prepares to record his long-anticipated sixth full-length album, he is perhaps more inspired and confident than ever before, promising, "Sit me down in front of a microphone, and I'll make something happen." The fulfillment of that exquisite promise will come in early 1999.
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