Saturday, August 26, 2006

Cardiacs Tarred And Feathered

About fifteen years ago, I was a massive fan of the Cardiacs. Changes in my personal situation led to a change in musical taste; I fell out with the friend who had introduced me to their music; I couldn’t play their lp’s anymore because I had no record player; the recording quality of the cd’s was abysmal, and did not do justice to their glorious Technicolor sound; and slowly I forgot about these psychedelic proggy punksters. Then I saw this delirious video for ‘Tarred And Feathered’, a song from their 1989 album ‘Songs For Ships And Irons’, and I was reminded of just how great they are. The video shows them in all their acephalic, playful, desperate, poetic, transgressive, humorous, childishly erotic, tearfully happy, mad, lonely and very British wonderfulness, worthy of Queneau’s “Zazie Dans Le Métro” (which is however decidedly un-British).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Worthy of Genghis Khan

Tragic Black Metal Christ

In my last post, I said that when black metal directs it's hate against limited, specific groups, such as religious groups, it loses all it's charm. This might suprise the odd reader or two, given black metal's traditional hatred of Christianity.

Of course, I can understand that for some Satanism and Asatru (or Odinism) have a playful or nostalgic appeal. I can understand that many would call Christianity a hypocritic religion. However, most black metal invective against 'christians turds' is puerile and uninteresting. Living in a largely atheistic North-Western Europe mostly dulls Satanism's transgressive edge.

Also, I feel black metal could acknowledge the tragic dimension inherent in the myth of the crucified Christ - the bible's portrayal of the night of Golgotha is more blackened by far than the many black metal bands' music. Justin Broadrick's Godflesh and Jesu show the possibilities of making Christ's tragedy into a fine artistic strategy (an interesting issue, by the way, for another post).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Misanthropic gift

Advice from Charles Baudelaire for young writers:

"En effet, la haine est une liqueur précieuse, un poison plus cher que celui des Borgia, - car il est fait avec notre sang, notre santé, notre sommeil, et les deux tiers de notre amour! Il faut en être avare!"

For Baudelaire, hatred is a gift, a gift as precious as myrrh, incense and gold, because the hater gives his self to the hated. The violence of hate, directed outwards, is mirrored by a violence directed inwards, towards the blood of the hater, the health of the hater, the sleep of the hater, two thirds of the hater's love. Hatred is sacrifice of both other and self.

Baudelaire advises us to be greedy with hatred - out of self-preservation. Black metal's hatred however is recklessly generous and universal - misanthropy is it's name. It's generosity is exactly it's appeal. Those cases where Black Metal is less than generous - where it's hate is only directed towards certain races, or towards religious social or political groups - it loses all charm immediatly.

Recent acquisitions

The day before yesterday I bought:

The Orb - The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (Deluxe Edition); and
Burzum - Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

I love to buy music which is so different in one go; my cultural ideal is to juxtapose Marcel Proust and Lucio Fulci.

On a trip to London I bought:

Jazkamer - Metal Music Machine;
Boxcutter - Oneiric;
Glen Brown and King Tubby - Termination Dub (1973 - 79);
Impact Allstars - Forward The Bass, Dub From Randy's 1972-1975.

And from the innanet I bought:

Dubstep Allstars: Vol. 4 Mixed by Youngsta & Hatcha; and
Vex'd - Degenerate.

And I'm waiting for:

Wolfmangler - Dwelling in a Dead Raven for the Glory of Crucified Wolves;
Velvet Cacoon - Northsuite; and
Xasthur - Subliminal Genocide.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Burzumic Burial

“As far as I am concerned, I love everything that presents this dimension of mixing, everything mixed blood, from sarcophagi dating from Roman times with faces of splendidly made-up women painted in the most realistic way to Fuegeans wearing European pants found in shipwrecks, not forgetting Alexandrine philosophy and the unmatchable elegance of Harlem negroes along the way” - Michel Leiris.

In the 1990’s, I loved this very dimension of mixing in Mick Harris’s, Kevin Martin’s and Justin Broadrick’s many bands – Scorn, Godflesh, God, Ice, Techno Animal, The Bug, Curse of the Golden Vampire; and in the many compilations these artists made (Macro Dub Infection, Jazz Satellites, Isolationism; and not to forget the Electric Ladyland series), I loved the mixed blood of ‘white’ (grindcore, industrial, ambient) and ‘black’ (jazz, dub, drum & bass, techno) underground musics.

Of course, Kevin Martin and Justin Broadrick are still quite active. Nonetheless, I’d very much like to see more miscegenation among current underground genres such as doom metal, dubstep, black metal and grime.

On one hand, for black metal, syncretism appears as yet to be far off, the genre sadly still being in the grips of racism and the ‘troo’, the ‘ kvlt’ and the ‘elite’. Yet in my minds ear I can already hear black metal’s ice-cold buzzing-bees-in-a-bucket guitars swarming around deep, warm, syrupy dubstep bass.

On the other hand, as far as doom metal is concerned, things seem to be on the move: on internet forums, many have pointed out similarities between doom metal and dubstep, qua slowness and use of sub-bass; both Kode9 and Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley have devoted blog entries to sound weaponry; and a very nice doom metal/hip hop mashup has appeared on the internet.

So: give me a Blood and Fire vs. Blood Fire Death soundclash, a Burzumic Burial, a Sunn-Skream, a Satanic Dubmaster, a Vex’d Xasthur, a Loefah Leviathan: the stars are right!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Fressen before Freedom?

Isn't the tendency of neocons to put security (safety) before freedom a variation of Brecht's " Zuerst daß Fressen und dann die Moral"? It's so easy to mashup the two! "Zuerst Security und dann die Moral" or "Fressen Before Freedom"...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lunamancy - Reading 'Freezing Moon'

Everything Here Is So Cold
Everything Here Is So Dark
I Remember It As From A Dream
In The Corner Of This Time

Diabolic Shapes Float By
Out From The Dark
I Remember It Was Here I Died
By Following The Freezing Moon

It's Night Again, Night You Beautiful
I Please My Hunger, On Living Humans
Night Of Hunger Follow It's Call
Follow The Freezing Moon

Darkness Is Growing, Eternity Opens
The Cemetery Lights Up Again
As In Ancient Times
Fallen Souls Die Behind My Steps
By Following The Freezing Moon

The Freezing Moon Can Obsess You

This text is the result of a being moonstruck by one of black metal’s masterpieces – excessive music evoking excessive intertextuality in this one listener.


Whereas hell is traditionally pictured as a hot, fiery place, coldness paradoxically is one of the themes at the icy heart of Black Metal. In Mayhem’s Freezing Moon, coldness is already introduced in the first sentence of the lyrics: “Everything Here Is So Cold”.

In Black Metal, coldness is generally associated with the sub-arctic climate of Norway, the birthground of the second generation of this musical genre. Indeed, photographs of Black Metal musicians in a wintry landscape had become one of the clichés of the genre’s artwork.

Central to Freezing Moon however, is not so much the coldness of Norway’s snow and ice, as the coldness of death and night. Freezing Moon is the coldness of the body temperature of a corpse which has dropped a few degrees each night for some weeks; the coldness of the absence of the sun at night-time; the coldness of a room in which a ghost has just entered.

As the lyrics speak of those who follow in the narrator’s footsteps as ‘Fallen Souls’, souls which have fallen from the sunlike grace of God, the coldness of Freezing Moon is also the coldness of a world which has abandoned God and thereby lost it’s anchor in space: “Where is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideways, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while?”. Nietzsche’s metaphors of coldness, darkness and floating (worlds or diabolical images) are the same as those of Mayhem.

Star of Bethlehem vs. Freezing Moon

The Star of Bethlehem guided the Fire-worshipping astrologer-kings known as the Magi from Persia to the birthplace of Jesus Christ – like that Star, the ‘Freezing Moon’ functions as a astronomical guide for the moonstruck narrator of the song’s lyrics and for the ‘Fallen Souls’ that follow him. However, where Bethlehem’s Star led the Magi to a place of birth, to a fons et origo of life, the Freezing Moon leads to death: “I Remember It Was Here I Died/ By Following The Freezing Moon (…) Fallen Souls Die Behind My Steps/ By Following The Freezing Moon”. Thus, the Freezing Moon can be described as an inverted the Star of Bethlehem; the Moon relates to the Star as the inverted cross of Satanists relates to the One True Cross.

Darkness, dream, memory

In the ouverture of Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way”, as the protagonist is dozing off, indistinct shapes float around him in the darkness of night - shapes from memory, shapes from dreams and shapes of medieval legend projected by a magic lantern, “supernatural phenomena of many colours”, “astral bodies”.

Similarly, images float around the narrator of Freezing Moon –supernatural phenomena from medieval mythology (diabolical shapes) float by as if projected by a magic lantern, and the coldness and darkness of the world he stumbles through are “…remembered as from a dream”. In these last five words, even the coldness and darkness which are so central to the lyrics are modulated into a image as indistinct and vague as the half-forgotten images we strain to recall when we wake up.

For Proust, the floating images connect to time: “When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly host. Instinctively, when he awakes, he looks to these, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the amount of time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow confused, and to break its ranks”. As this last sentence shows, time for Proust is not a linear continuum wherein events occur in an irreversible order: it is a continuum which circles slowly around the drowsy head of the narrator, a continuum wherein the order in which events occur can easily be broken, become confused, be rearranged or be reversed. Thus, not only the amount of time that has elapsed during sleep becomes uncertain, but also the position of a man on the earth’s surface. Proust shows man’s anchor in space to have come loose through the power of dream.

Time is also an important issue in the lyrics of Freezing Moon. Again and again, words are used which point to time, either directly (…Again/In The Corner Of This Time/…/Eternity Opens/…Again/As In Ancient Times) or indirectly, through memory (I Remember It…/I Remember…). In Freezing Moon’s dreamy world, the temporal order is not linear but circular. History repeats itself. Things that have happened, happen again. It is night again. It is cold again. The cemetery lights up again, as in ancient times. Like the narrator in the past, fallen souls die by following the freezing moon, replicating the death of the protagonist. The deaths of those who follow in the footsteps of the narrator, prove that more is at stake then mere paramnesia (déja vu): at stake is a true recurrence of events. Nietzsche called the idea of such a recurrence of events "horrifying and paralyzing", appropriate emotions for a black metal song as powerful as Freezing Moon.

Recurrence of events points towards circular time, which in it’s turn connects to eternity. For if time is circular, it is without end. The Ouroboros, the mythological monstrous snake that forms a circle by biting it’s own tail, is a very apt symbol of eternity, as well as a symbol of the void. Thus, it is not unexpected that the lyrics of Freezing Moon speak of eternity opening, like a horrifying maw.

In the same way the narrator died, the fallen souls following the freezing moon die. Death repeated in cycles was the subject of two films which were recent when the lyrics to Freezing Moon were written in the mid-1980’s: Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining”, (1980) and Lucio Fulci’s "Quella Villa Accanto Al Cimitero", (1981). In Fulci’s film, it is the role of the victim which is repeated – in Kubrick’s film, it is the role of the aggressor. The protagonist of Freezing Moon is both victim (‘I Remember It Was Here I Died’) as well as cannibalistic sacrificer (‘I Please My Hunger, On Living Humans’). In uniting these roles, Freezing Moon encompasses the totality of the movement of sacrifice.

Windigo Psychosis

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining brings me to my last observations regarding Freezing Moon. Not only wintry landscapes and cyclic time connect Freezing Moon to The Shining: the film and the song also share the theme of cannibalism.

In The Shining, as the family travels to the Overlook hotel, Jack Torrance talks about a wagon train that was stranded in the mountains over the winter and about the pioneers having to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. The hotel manager describes as 'cabin fever', the occasion the previous winter caretaker went mad and hacked his family to death: cabin fever being the legendary name for cannibalism by early settlers, cooped up together over winter in a log cabin without a food supply. As the Overlook Hotel has been built on a Native American cemetery, legends of ‘cabin fever’ build on the mythology of the Windigo psychosis, a culture-bound psychiatric syndrome prevalent among the Algonquian-speaking tribes of Northern America. In the mythology of these tribes, the Windigo is an evil cannibalistic spirit. According to Wikipedia “This myth was used as a deterrent and cautionary tale among northern tribes whose winters were long and bitter and whose hunting parties often were trapped in storms with no recourse but to consume members of their own party. It is also indicative of starvation that the Wendigo is said to consume moss and other unpalatable food when human flesh is unavailable. Thus the Wendigo myth is a personification of the hardships of winter and the taboo of cannibalism. Its physical deformities suggest starvation and frostbite”.

Likewise, cannibalism plays a role in Freezing Moon’s wintry landscape : “I Please My Hunger, On Living Humans/Night Of Hunger Follow It's Call”. The moon is identified with a night of hunger, both calling the lonely and hungry protagonist, calling for sacrifices through anthropophagy. With regard to this matter, the rumour that Euronymous would have consumed a part of Dead’s brain, cannot remain unmentioned.

The Freezing Moon can obsess you. Certainly, it’s eerie light has haunted me ever since I bought De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas two years ago.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chaos Is My Name

Not only has Hydrahead signed Xasthur, but also they will release a collaboration between James Plotkin (now best known for his work with Khanate) and Runhild Gammelsaeter, whom Greg Anderson described as "a death metal/black metal fan from Norway that was in Seattle on an exchange program. She was this gorgeous Norwegian teenager, but she sings/growls in this bellowing, guttural, superlow voice" (note the 'but' instead of 'and'). The collaboration is called Khlyst, which comes from the Russian word хлыст. This apparently is a Russian flagellant sect which has been linked to Rasputin. The project is called: "Chaos is my name".

From Hydrahead's blog:

khlyst is the brainchild of james plotkin and runhild gammelsaeter... the album at hand being a manifestation of a long distance musical romance conceived and executed at various studios (oslo, norway and brooklyn, ny) between 2004 and 2005. mr. plotkin is probably a familiar to many of you due to his work with/as phatomsmasher, khanate, scorn, lotus eaters, o.l.d., as a solo artist, and a myriad of other musical projects spanning numerous genres and multiple decades. mrs. gammelsaeter is also an accomplished cult musician, having participated in the short lived but much beloved thorrs hammer, along with stephen o'malley (sunno))), khanate, etc.) and others. while you might be able to picture what such a pairing might sound like, even such a mental fabrication couldn't prepare you for the contents of the forthcoming "chaos is my name" - the cd version of which is due out on hydra head on oct. 24th, with the vinyl version to follow shortly there after. while the initial groundwork of the album was built upon spontaneous improvisation and a lot of it's power is derived from that sense of freedom and unadultered creative bloodflow, it is clear after multiple listens that this project is anything but thrown together. after laying down the initial outpourings, plotkin painstakingly reconstructed the disparate bits and pieces into a towering and carefully crafted beast that alternates between vicious bursts of howling violence and placid, but unsettling passages of "ambient" textures. for those that cannot imagine what anything sounds like without hearing other band names being mentioned, think of what abruptum might have sounded like had brian eno produced their earlier works - though even this comparison is belittling considering the ingenuity and inventivness of the is project. the album is made up of 8 tracks, all of which work as individual pieces, however it is best absorbed as one continuous piece that is merely divided into 8 movements, with many elements that recede and return repeatedly giving the album an almost labyrinthian character.... it is certainly a music to get lost in. to cap it all off "chaos is my name" will feature cover and interior art by stephen kasner ( and runhild gammelsaeter, all of which is highly complimentary and fitting for the music it houses.....
for clips and further/related info see also:

Monday, August 14, 2006

I will show you fear in a handful of dust

' Dust - Meanwhile dismal sheets of dust constantly invade earthly habitations and uniformly defile them; as if it were a matter of making ready attics and old rooms for the imminent occupation of the obsessions, phantoms, spectres that the decayed odour of old dust nourishes and intoxicates'.

Georges Bataille, Documents issue 5, 1929

''. . .The olden wizards knew him, and named him Quachil Uttaus. Seldom is he revealed: for he dwelleth beyond the outermost circle, in the dark limbo of unsphered time and space. Dreadful is the word that calleth him, though the word be unspoken save in thought: For Quachil Uttaus is the ultimate corruption; and the instant of his coming is like the passage of many ages; and neither flesh nor stone may abide his treading, but all things crumble beneath it - atom from atom. And for this, some have called him The Treader of the Dust'. —The Testaments of Carnamagos.'

Clark Ashton Smith, Weird Tales, august 1935

Certainly, Quachil Uttaus is one of those spectres Bataille mentions. Having been allergic to dust for many years, I know the spectre's suffocating grasp around my throat.

This blog has been inspired by my visit to the exhibition "Undercover Surrealism" at the Hayward Gallery in London. The blog is intended to contain doctrines, fine arts, ethnography, variety. Expect dusty things, ethnographies of one-man-Cthulhu Cults, confused concepts, black and blackened musics, untruths.