Peter Murphy was the vocalist of the renowned rock group Bauhaus and has also made ten solo albums, the most recent being the Youth produced ‘Lion’, released in 2014. ‘Bare-Boned And Sacred’ is a brand new live album recorded in New York during Murphy’s 2016 ‘Stripped’ tour, which he performed as a three piece with John Andrews on guitars and Emilio Zef China on bass and electric violin. The trio presented pared down arrangements of songs from throughout his career, resulting in an intimate yet powerful portrayal where Murphy’s voice and stand-out songwriting were the stars of the show.
Bare-Boned And Sacred : album sleevenotes
Look through the face of this album, the cover of ‘Bare-Boned And Sacred’ as an image-language visioned and conceived by Murphy himself. Now, surrender sight, and listen. His tongued lyrics embody pure aural space.
“We have no image,” he pronounces, the first words on ‘Bare-Boned And Sacred’. “We never know,” he sings, drawing out life and breath as from the lines of the cover, its forms drawing out the effects of rhythm from untouched silence, enough for the live sound within to fly out “as we call to the madmen, as they fly to the Anthills,” so rapturously enunciated and captured to scintillating effect on this record.
From the first to the last song, ‘Cascade’ to ‘Your Face’, he resurrects twilight Devotionals to the ‘Ilahi’ world of music, at home in the presence of the Water King, that ageless master of spiritual purification, followed by blind seers and holy clowns. “We’re just called the Good Friends,” he sings, a subtle homage to the mystic kinship of the Sufis, as set down by the likes of Abul Qadir Geylani, Idris Shah, or Jelladdin Rumi.
‘Bare-Boned And Sacred’ is the essence of the ‘Stripped’ tour, taking Murphy and his two accomplices, guitarist John Andrews and bassist/electric violinist Emilio Zef China, through North America and Europe. During a year of blackest night under so many passing stars, remembering Bowie, singing ‘Bewlay Brothers’, his sound resonates with the living contemporary of a music born in the industrial hotbed of old England, now tuned to infinite truth. This record hails to a kind of music that breaches the vein of unplugged and acoustic. There’s more to it than simply shedding drums, it is the unveiled human form, the body distilled to a sound, harmonised to a place that has reached a point of acoustical grace. That is the essence of the live recording, wherefrom Murphy, as perfected artist, becomes a Siren to every last listener, to return to the original state, among the Good Friends, to the bare-boned and sacred.
With a single bow, Zef conjures orchestral might on ‘The Rose’ and plucks a pizzicato tonic into a Bauhaus medley which bears a sound reminiscent of the folkloric Celtic choral. On the other side of the sonic spectrum, Andrews syncopates hot rhythms and holds melodies to artful transfixion behind backup vocals that free the air from every last inhibition.
When listening to Murphy live in concert, we are all alone and together at once, and in that moment feel the inner life of another, as ourselves. Behold the true effect of music, which holds the ‘Secret’, his song dedicated to spiritual union with the beloved, as he croons, “Let living and love, be one.” Call it soul, call it spirit, call it G-d, call it life. It is alive in his sound, and Murphy projects it with the force of his entire body, in musical union as the Stripped trio.
‘Gaslit’ and amplified in the heart of New York City, on the night of April 21st 2016, during the late second of three shows at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street, the bells of a nameless underworld cathedral rang out, and every last human presence who heard emerged to absorption in the one voice, the voice of the ‘Lion’.