An Exploration of Goth and Goth Adjacent Cultural Artifacts from an Irreverent Reverend

Music for an Apocalypse : Urban Heat

The answer is “yes”.

In my quest to discover new music, I didn’t expect to fall in love so quickly with this band from Austin, TX.  This band has consistent, driving fat synth paired with Jonathan Horstmann’s deep, gorgeous baritone voice. Horstmann’s earnest expressions have a combination of grit and soul.

Gen-Xers might compare it to Depeche Mode. Millennials may compare it to Bloc Party and maybe the Shins. This band honestly stands on it’s own with talent and integrity. I don’t know much about what makes a band big or not, but I wouldn’t be shocked if these guys made it big. (Whatever that means these days.)

In listening to their catalog on Spotify, I realize that the subject matter goes much deeper.  The songs are profoundly relevant. 

This is music for an apocalypse.

Apocalypse comes from Greek apokálypsis “uncovering,” a derivative of the verb apokalýptein “to take the cover off,”

I’ve been calling the current era an era of Great Unveiling.  A Spiritual Director reminded me that is the definition of an apocalypse. 

Urban Heat cover topics like climate change, gun violence, and deconstruction of belief systems.  They convey the ambivalence of what really matters in light of such grand endings.  Do we panic at the end of the world?  Or do we rebel with celebration?

And I asked you this:
If you're dancing at the end of the world,
Is the world really ending,
Or is it just the beginning?
From “A Simple Love Song”

In 2020, they produced this lovely short film with stunning views of our planet, both in decay and in life. 

I’m Just a Visitor Here: A Love Letter in Visual Form

I was impressed with their description of this piece on YouTube.  The spiritual insight reminiscent of ancient contemplative mystics.

We decided to stop for a moment and create something with intention, to clear our heads and offer our listener’s something more thoughtful for the time being. It is allowing us a much needed time to center ourselves before the long journey ahead. If 2020 has been any indication, the future will need us all to keep cool heads.

Urban Heat, 2020

This reminds me of an article I read for fellow clergy during this great upheaval of an era, an apocalypse if you will.

We are in a liminal season: something has ended, but a new thing is not yet ready to begin. In liminal seasons, systems and processes break down because they are supposed to. We cannot discover a new beginning until something ends or dies. Much of our overwhelm comes from trying to preserve or adapt things that are meant to fail.

Susan Beaumont, “Overwhelm: Not a Problem to be Solved”. October 12, 2021.

…Are You Even Alive?

This brings me to their fresh single release “Have You Ever?”

Have you ever seen the face of god
till you turn around and wonder what it was?
Or have you ever thought you've seen the light
till you turned around and you felt the knife?

For those of us with religious trauma, we answer with wide eyes a simple “yes”.  We know.  Deeply.  Some of us are still working this out. Some of us find the Divine to be completely different, but still feel the dull ache of that old knife wound.

With they posting of the lyrics on their YouTube, they share this hard earned insight:

We’re all raised with a certain belief set and at some point begin to question it. Some of us return to the fold, others form their own code of morality, but everyone at some point has to decide for themselves what they hold as truth. If you haven’t ever questioned the very nature of your existence, are you even alive?

Urban Heat

This insight came from a deep wrestling, likely riddled with angst, disillusionment, and pain. I know many (myself included) who know exactly what they are talking about. “If you haven’t ever questioned the very nature of your existence, are you even alive?”

We choose to be alive.

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