CD Review

Libitina - "A Closer Communion"

By Marcus Pan

A Closer CommunionThe UK has given our scene and our close-cousin scenes plenty over the course of the past few decades. Hell, they started it! They've given us the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, snakebite and black, cloves, Bauhaus, the Chameleons and so much more. Still today it is the UK that push the forefront of the fetish fashion scene and leather boys and girls. Sheffield is a hot spot of goth/fetish activity still; and probably always will be. The latest to come out of this haven of big hair and dark lips are Libitina - a gothic rock group made up of Peter, Jamie, Lady Synthia and Darren. Seemingly leading the group on vocals and programming, with guitar in hand, is Peter - a beautiful blonde boi with a Siouxsie look and a Rozz like voice. Also providing sweet vocal ranges throughout the CD is Jamie, their bassist and leather-lace boi. The only darker haired one of the group, Darren, plays guitar and sings as well. Lady Synthia provides the pounding drums to which the other three apply their diversions.

Libitina are currently planning their next album for release in late 1999 or early 2000. Primary singers for the group are Peter and Jamie - an interesting shared job that occurred after an original singer left leaving Libitina without one person who knew all the lyrics to their songs, so these two filled in where necessary and with what they knew individually. They are known for their PVC and fetish-fashion live performances throughout the British Isles (what do you expect, they're from Sheffield for goth's sake!). Their work has also appeared on The Black Box II, Hex Files: The Goth Bible 3 and Darkend: Gothic Rock 2. All of these are somewhat well-known compilation collections and are staples in most UK DJ bins. Darkend was reviewed in Legends #85 by Haydn Black and at that time he wrote about Libitina: "Our next stop on the merry-go-round of love is Libitina, a band I'm an unabashed fan of. Fagility Of Self is one of my favorite tracks from their debut album, and includes the pastiche 90s keyboards with some good of fashioned guitar (and a drum machine) to good effect."

Libitina's A Closer Communion (1997) debut release is a full length, twelve track album that includes their single Fragility of Self that Haydn upholds above. Additionally there are quite a few lovely songs here as well, all keeping with the darkwave style that the UK have become so famous for - and rightly so. The ingredients of ghostly guitar work, intricate and sometimes pounding drum and bass along with spooky keyboards that float and wrap around the rest of the instrumentation provide a wonderful web of music.

LibitinaOther than Fragility of Self, there are other songs on A Closer Communion that bear a closer look. First and foremost is Gothic People, an adaptation of the pulp song called Common People. On track 11, Gothic People is a half-joke song of a college girl who discovers the goth scene and decides she wants to be a part of it. "I wanna look like gothic people, I wanna do whatever gothic people do." In her attempt to become more gothic, she seems to do everything wrong. She changes her look, her music, her hair - but she forgets the one true ingredient; the mind. "But she didn't understand, she just frowned and held my hand." Another single that has appeared on their compilation endeavors, Painted Whiter Than White, is a punk-like crossover reminiscent of work by Christian Death. The drums are constant and the bass rolls with the beats providing a strong moving piece that echoes with high pitched guitars. Peter keeps from going into the growling vocalization mode and instead spits the lyrics at you while keeping to a still-sung sound. Other tracks to look to are The Ephemeral Bed Of Fire with its strong and solid bass line and the final track, the Whitewash remix of Painted Whiter Than White.

Libitina are a solid band with a small amount of members. This I think probably helps them in their music creation - the instrumentation is personal to each other, wraps around each other and all pieces of sound compliment one another in an almost perfect combination. Darkwave may have reared its moody, angst-ridden, white painted head in 1979 at the outset of The Banshees and Bauhaus - but like people, twenty years is a good age of maturity. Libitina is that maturity.

Contact Information:
Post: Libitina, PO Box 226, Sheffield, S10 1XX, UK Fax: +44 0870 056 2136
E-Mail: libitina@libitina.demon.co.uk
Web: http://www.libitina.demon.co.uk/index.html