Photo by Kerstin Rodgers.

Dali's Stars
No. 1 Mag, November 1984.
by Paul Bursche.

Dali's Car is the new vehicle for Peter Murphy and Mick Karn, Formerly of Bauhaus and Japan. Paul Bursche Goes along for the ride.

Salvador Dali is the Spanish genius whose surrealist art has been delighting and horrifying the art world for nearly a century.

Dali's car is an exhibit in a museum in Chicago. It's actually and automobile that used to belong to Mafia boss Al Capone.

Dali's Car is Mick Karn and Peter Murphy, formerly of Japan and Bauhaus, working together for the first time.

What's in a Name

"It was Mick who spotted the name and lifted it," says Pete. "We both liked the sound of it, what it suggested."

"Dali represents enigma and mystery, the car bit is very straightforward. It's the idea of the very unfamiliar and the familiar."

"As it is, the name is anonymous, something for us to hide behind, perhaps."

The pair met last year, when they were both emerging from well-known groups that had split up. Bother were searching for something that would sever any remaining ties with the past.

Mick Karn had tried hard. He had already worked with Ultravox's Midge Ure on a project that had resulted in the, "After A Fashion," single, but that was a one-off. Then he had plunged himself into trying to open a new gallery for young artists to show off their work. He had been very busy without actually settling on one thing.

Pete was in an even worse position. "When I met Mick I was just about to give up," he says. "I don't know musicians, I've never mixed with other musicians, I'm not part of the scene. Bauhaus were a group of very introverted people who lived in Northampton and did their own thing."

Spirit Level

Karn and Murphy quickly decided to work together. But the fruits of their labours have taken rather longer.

"That's been very intentional," says Mick. "We didn't want to announce that we were working together, have everybody talk about it for ages and then come out with something that was an anti-climax."

But the first Dali's Car single, "The Judgement is the Mirror," has finally arrived.

It's a very sparse piece ow work, with little instrumentation. Deliberately so.

"We've tried to veer away from technical effects," says Mick. "We've tried to get back to basics. I think it's a very natural thing to listen to, and the space within the song makes it very spiritual.

"It reaffirms to people that you don't have to have lots of noises on a record for it to be any good."

Mick's not exactly anti-Frankie, but he does resent the fact that technology has come to replace genuine songwriting talent.

"People talk about these great groups from the past like The Beatles and how today's groups aren't as good," he says, "but think about it. The Beatles only had four-track studios and limited production strategies -- their strengths were in their songs."

"Today there are no limitations to what you can do in the studio and it's making people lazy. We approached the forthcoming album by deliberately limiting ourselves and then working within those limits."

Bass-Less Criticism

One thing that's immediately apparent about, "Judgement," is that it has hardly any fretless bass -- the instrument which Mick has almost singlehandedly introduced to the contemporary pop world.

Once, Japan could be distinguished by its rubbery, twanging sounds. Now everyone from Gary Numan to Paul Young has it.

"I think it's sad when an innovator like Mick has to stop using his bass because he's beginning to sound like his imitators," says Pete.

"Well, it has already got to the stage where I was trying to play things that were just too difficult for me," says Mick. "It was ridiculous. Now I find myself playing less bass purely because people do expect me to play bass."

Pete Murphy, however, is sticking to being the vocalist of the group -- although he insists that he's not the frontman.

"I always hated it in Bauhaus when people assumed that I was the leader of the group, " he says. "People thought that I was responsible for all that we did, when in fact it was a collaboration."

"Now we're trying to stress that it is the pair of us. Mick and I both have such strong identities that we naturally balance one another out."

The Passion of Brothers

For Mick Karn and Pete Murphy, the realisation that they have finally got a record out together is enough.

"As far as I'm concerned," says Mick, "just getting the record out has spelt success. I'm happy with it, I don't care what happens to it now. I made it primarily for myself."

"It would be nice," says Pete, "if we could have a hit. That would be the icing on the cake, but it doesn't matter. We know we have something here."

"I mean, we hardly know one another yet, we're still strangers. Our method of working over the last year has only meant us coming together now and then.

"We still don't know exactly what we can achieve."

(Thanks to the person who posted this article on the JapanSylvian forum)

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