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Resurrection revisited

Bauhaus passes through the valley of the shadows

When Bauhaus rose from the grave for its 1998 "Resurrection Tour," the gloomy British quartet materialized as a primal museum piece: aged but unchanged by the sands of time.

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In the group's heyday, circa 1978-'83, Bauhaus fused terse and angular post-punk and an antagonistic glam-rock strut, giving rise to a stark and gothic image. It's first single, "Bella Lugosi's Dead," became an anthem to many a black-clad, dejected teen on both sides of the Atlantic. When the group's members — guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J., drummer Kevin Haskins and vocalist Peter Murphy — parted ways, Bauhaus seemed to be laid to rest forever.

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Over the 15 or so years that have passed, Murphy pursued a vampy and narcissistic solo career while Ash, Haskins and J. regrouped under the dreamy and psychedelic pop of Love and Rockets. Bauhaus' resurrection came like a thief in the night, and any talk of recording new material was quashed, save one new song on the Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack. Five years later, Bauhaus has again grown restless in its not-so-eternal slumber. And with Murphy and Love and Rockets' careers at a standstill, reviving Bauhaus keeps the gothic gravy train rolling.

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Why not? Gang of Four, Devo, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr. and even Slint returned to the stage this year. In a musical climate where the Killers, Franz Ferdinand and the Bravery dramatically re-enact the steps of those who came before them, these groups have a right to grumble like ancient gods. For Haskins, Bauhaus' relevance transcends pop trends. "Before the Resurrection Tour, I listened to the Bauhaus material for the first time in 15 years and was pleasantly surprised at how fresh it sounds," Haskins says. "A lot of Bauhaus' songs have a timeless quality that bears repeating."

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Bauhaus' third coming doesn't repeat the impact of its first reunion. And bouncing back from its '98 live NYC recording, Gotham, which allegorically reduced the group's image to a cartoonish pun, is an uphill climb, especially when the group has nothing new to report other than it's started writing a new song.

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Murphy has always been in favor of a full-scale Bauhaus reformation, but the rest of the group hasn't always shared in his enthusiasm. "I thought the proof was in the pudding," Murphy said in 2000 shortly after Bauhaus' Resurrection Tour had ended. "The band still had something to offer, but they wanted to carry on with Love and Rockets."

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Before the Bauhaus reunion shows in '98, Love and Rockets was touring in support of its seventh studio album, Lift. The recording was one of the group's strongest and best-received efforts in nearly a decade, but even then the repercussions of unearthing Bauhaus after so many years of lying dormant crept into Love and Rockets' album. A doom-laden sample of bass and noise from Bauhaus' gothic anthem "Stigmata Martyr" snaking through "Resurrection Hex" set a tone for unsettled discourse. And lyrics from "Bad for You," which decree, "Don't dice with the dead boys," directly address a growing sense of anxiety surrounding Bauhaus' unquiet future.

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"We were fearful that playing in Bauhaus again might not live up to people's expectations, or even our own expectations," Haskins says. "But by the end of the tour, happily that was disproved."

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In April, Bauhaus played the Coachella Festival in Indio, Calif. The show was to be a one-off performance, but while rehearsing the seeds for Bauhaus' return were planted (again). The group began work on a new song, but don't expect to hear it anytime soon. "It's nowhere near ready to be aired yet," Haskins says.

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The rusty cogs are turning and a new Bauhaus full-length is lurking on the horizon, but it's still a ways off. "We intend to put out a new recording, which will probably happen toward the end of next year," says Haskins. "Right now, we just want to tour a lot and take our time writing. We don't want to rush anything."