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Music Video Distributors presents
Goth Box: The DVD Companion (1999)

"I live in Siberia / Through no fault of my own / We're a blank generation / In the danger zone / Parasital slumber from 7 to 23 / Only the blind follow me... "
- Lyrics from Ignore the Machine, by Alien Sex Fiend

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: April 26, 2002

Stars: Switchblade Symphony, Lords Of The New Church, Christian Death
Other Stars: Chameleons U.K., Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Alien Sex Fiend
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language, nudity, surreal imagery)
Run Time: 02h:00m:00s
Release Date: September 07, 1999
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- BC+B+ B

DVD Review

The "Gothic" music scene is generally credited as an offshoot of the 1970s, British punk scene, resulting in a variety of groups with similarities to where punk was going, but relying instead on more in-depth lyrics and a less-chaotic message to their music. Whereas punks probably considered their music to be a purposefully fleeting thing, meant to shake up the public, the Gothic genre adopted its ways with a kind of permance, sowing the seeds for other musical movements, especially so-called "New Wave." English band Bauhaus (originally fronted by Peter Murphy) is probably the most influential of all the proto-Gothic bands, which also means they're the act most bands try to imitate. Nowadays, the lines between genres have blurred quite a bit in just about every type of music, and Gothic is no exception. In fact, these days pretty much anything can be classified as Gothic if it gets picked up as such. Because of this, there seems to be a distinct resurgence in "pure" and more original Goth music that gets back to the roots of the genre: primarily a dark and moody rock-n-roll.

California's Cleopatra label has long been at the front of this movement to get the genre out of the underground and bring it back to a level where it's more accessible. Some purists have scorned Cleopatra's usage of "Greatest Hit" compilations and similar techniques to try and bring new fans to old bands, but I think the effort is admirable and beneficial to virtually anyone interested in the music and has helped ease the pain of the exaggerated distortions of the subculture by the media. One of Cleopatra's bigger collections is the Goth Box, a compilation of "who's who" in the scene. This DVD, simply entitled Goth Box, offers a companion to those CDs by letting us glimpse some videos by these bands as well as some additional audio tracks, making it a perfect fan-buy as well as a great "How to Get Started in Gothic Music in About an Hour" primer. It isn't anywhere near complete in a historical perspective, but it isn't bad for a single-label compilation and is a decent mix of the brand-name bands most associated with the genre.

One thing most people need to understand about Goth Box is that many of the videos are pretty old and really low budget, and even the ones that aren't very old are still really low budget; often live. This won't be much of a visual experience, although it does get the job done. Still, you'll see "old-school" names like Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Christian Death, and Chameleons U.K. mixed with newer acts like Switchblade Symphony, The Prophetess, and Executive Slacks. Are the bands any good? Overall, I'd say it's a pleasing compilation. A few of the groups are a bit too serious for my taste, which is why the presence of Alien Sex Fiend is definitely a treat. As Gothic music can tend to get ridiculously pretentious and depressing, putting the ASF video for their first single (circa 1983) Ignore the Machine was a nice touch from a band that almost never takes themselves seriously. The disc gets points for trying to remain true to the core roots of Gothic music, and doesn't sway too much into cross-genre, which is both good and bad. Good in a technical sense, but bad because it limits the field of exploration.

In additional to 15 videos, there are also 12 audio-only tracks that serve to offer even more selections, most of which are by the same bands, but a few new faces appear (like Big Electric Cat, Mephisto Waltz, and Die Form). The end result is a worthy way of spending your DVD money if you're either looking for a decent Gothic compilation or would like something to introduce you to the genre. It's a little over-presented and wraps itself up in the whole image a bit too much, but ignore that and just have some fun with the music.
The complete tracklists are as follows:
The Videos
Switchblade Symphony - Clown
The Wake - Christine
Christian Death – Romeo’s Distress (actually a clip taken from the Christian Death Live disc)
Nosferatu – The Haunting
Eva O. – Children of the Light
Alien Sex Fiend – Ignore the Machine
Red Lorry / Yellow Lorry – Spinning Around<.i>
The Prophetess - Avalon
Ghost Dance – Deeper Blue
Lords Of the New Church – Open Your Eyes
The Chameleons U.K. – In Shreds
Skeletal Family – Lost in Paradise
Executive Slacks – Fire & Ice
Usherhouse – Surrender Down
Corpus Delicti – Absent Friend

The audio-only tracks are:
Switchblade Symphony - Dissolve
Big Electric Cat – Twisting Man
The Wake - Control
Alien Sex Fiend – Hurricane Fighter Plane (the extended cover version of a song by Red Crayola, which in turn was a tribute to Gerry Anderson shows)
Corpus Delicti – Noxious (The Demon’s Game)
Christian Death – The Angels (Assassin Mix)
Nosferatu – The Haunting (Main Mix)
Two Witches – The Angel of Pain
Mephisto Walz – T-200 (kokoro)
Aurora – The Legend of Our Origin
Die Form – Cantique 1
I Will I – Wilted Love

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Video quality is all over the place, thanks to the mixed nature of the videos. Most of them are filmed on home video-style cameras, and many are live. The quality is acceptable, but nothing special, and in some cases, a little messed up by using bad editing and effect techniques. The transfer itself does nothing to exaggerate the problems and there are no major artifacts, but the videos are generally grainy and murky, though it's really no one's fault.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: As audio is the more important part of the disc, thankfully, it's well up to the task. The live videos obviously lack a certain amount of depth found in studio recordings, but either way, it delivers a clean, wide-range stereo soundtrack. There's good frequency range with highs and lows being well separated, and sounding generally CD-like. The audio only tracks have no issues at all, and might as well be an average compact disc in your player.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: I suppose, technically, the audio-only tracks are the main extra feature here, and they were not present on the VHS edition of Goth Box. They are, admittedly, a fairly nice bonus given that you're basically getting an extra group of tracks that runs about an hour. Other than that, there are no additional features. The menuing system is effective and allows individual selection of videos or audio-only tracks.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Goth Box may not be completist, but it lives up to its name, providing a good, well-rounded dose of the genre. Certainly a rental for the curious; a purchase for major fans.


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