It’s hard to work out where The Horatii fit into the great gothic tree of life. Emerging from Leicester in the early 1990s, they just don’t sit comfortably with the classic cannon of ’90s Britgoth.
Their sound is a bit like a schizophrenic take on Children On Stun. But where the Stun fused a wry wit with a strident goth rock backbeat, The Horatii jump madly between the two, without ever quite hitting the balance. They repeatedly manage to conjure up a towering, straight laced melodrama but almost instantly collapse it into a farce – a bit like Steven Moffat era Doctor Who.
This tendency creates a delicious sense of tension on this beautifully crafted and recorded demo tape, which shimmers between moments of genuine greatness (Seeds Of Regret) and strenuous, overwrought attempts at left-field songwriting (Highway Road).
As the ’90s wore on, it became increasingly clear that the music media and mainstream audience was moving further and further away from goth. Many Goth bands went from being regarded as torch carriers of the ’80s post-punk scene to pathetically regressive hangover acts. This contempt from the outside world begins to tell a tale within the goth genre itself, which became increasingly paranoid and defensive. The Horatii’s particular brand of mania festered worse than most. They carried on producing bizarre, original and compelling releases throughout the decade, but never seemed to get their fair shot at the limelight. This is one great reason to unearth them now: what might at the time have been written off as a demo by “just another goth band”, today stands up as a dynamic, vibrant artefact of great artistic – as well as historical – interest.
This cassette release, and others of its kind, chart a short lived period of innocence and optimism in the gothic underground. For the first time, people were able to make records at home and you begin to hear a delightful mix of musical hero worship and ambitious originality from a host of DIY and bedroom artists. This blog will continue to look at these releases and speculate on how it reflects and contrasts with alternative music culture today, and what (if any) influence they’ve had through the years.
THE HORATII : Insect (1994)
Lineage: Original Cassette > Nakamichi DR-10 > Asus Xonar U7 > Adobe Audition @ 24/96 > ALAC 16/44
- Eyes For Infamy
- That’s My Girl
- Feigning Angels
- Eddie’s Legs
- Seeds Of Regret
- Highway Road
- Blonde In The Head?
We’re adding a new facet to the Heavy Leather blog in the form of a cassette archive. Dedicated primarily to the post-punk/goth underground years of 1988-94, when digital technology was more accessible to independent bands and DIY tapes were the way to get their demos heard. This era is largely ignored by the myriad definitive articles plaguing the Internet’s depths of late.
Armed with a top tier Nakamichi DR-10 and a clean ADC, each cassette is transferred to a high-resolution master file with minimum digital processing applied and shared in the Apple Lossless format at CD quality. I will write a more detailed post on the analogue-to-digital process, but in the meantime you can rest assured that the cassette transfers shared here are free from any EQ alterations or futzing with dynamic range.
The cassette I transferred is in mint condition with no audible anomalies or distractions. It is a Type I cassette with no Dolby NR, so expect the usual limitations with regards to frequency extension for this formula (there’s nothing audible above 16 kHz) and a present but quiet hiss. Speed and pitch stability is excellent throughout and – as is the surprisingly usual case with turn of the decade goth – the dynamic range is through the roof.
This recording was never released digitally, so the mint condition cassette combined with the Nakamichi’s transparency permits a very clear and detailed listening experience of this underground gem. Enjoy!