The psychedelic ghosts of black metal

I was totally full of lies last time, and for that I must apologize. I have neglected my blog duties for all of my five or six faithful followers.
Seriously though, I did get a new computer but I still don’t have internet access or the files from my dead computer. (update: I just retrieved the files from the old computer) Oh well, I will push on without it. I mean it this time.

Okay, so I picked up a copy of SUNNO))) & UlverTerrestrials on Southern Lord vinyl. I recommend getting it, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up of finding a vinyl copy unless you already have it, not cheaply anyway. Sorry. According to the little bit of info on the back cover (there are no interior liner notes) Terrestrials was conceived between 2008-2012, presumably in-between working on their individual releases and many side projects. Stephen O’Malley is involved in another release separate from SUNNO))) that I also acquired, I’ll get to it later. So that’s about it for the back cover other than a listing of names of those involved, a transcript of the few lyrics used on Eternal Return, and a short description of the cover image which is kind of cool. It is a portrait of the sun in the wavelength of hydrogen alpha light (656.3 nm in the deep red) taken on June 10, 2012.
Do not be confused, this is not metal of any sort, black or otherwise, despite being created in Norway and both bands being associated with that arena of sound. I use the word sound, because I think that the preponderance of people have a definition of music that fits only a portion of musical output, but I will refrain from getting off on a tangent about that as I am so prone to do in my, what some might sometimes call turgid, ramblings. (Nathan would probably say that the very use of the word turgid proves the point.) Black metal is an oft overlooked sub category too readily dismissed by most because of the corpse paint theatrics and associations to murders and church burnings previously carried out by just a few members of this small community and their sycophantic devotees. Which for most of them being overlooked is just fine. People want to become a part of a subculture for a reason, and it certainly is not to fit in with the rest of society. I would like to stress that in areas such as this genre of metal that there are many musicians that have felt too confined by it’s murky and far too shallow depths. These artists have forged onward into new sonic landscapes, Ulver is one of those bands. We have a need to categorize things in our attempts to understand them and draw connections, and in most cases this is fine and even preferable. But the unavoidable drawback of this process is that evolving sounds suffer the fate of being lumped in with a group simply because a category does not exist for which they are truly suited and those lines of connections end up being chains. So you can clearly understand why someone would not want to be permanently yoked to a moniker with such negative connotations which only functions to their detriment. (like “punk” music – I apologize to all of you that enjoy punk music, but it is to me unlistenable crap. I will not be swayed.) Until some new category can be established, accepted, and put into wide usage, (like the term post-punk) some of these guys are stuck with that albatross, black metal. So we’ve fully established that this isn’t black metal. Good, now we can move along.

I assume that anyone bothering to read this has probably expanded their musical palette enough that I won’t need to go into great detail about the music, nor will they be totally offended if I just say it’s good, only to then listen to it and have their ears bleed in response because they are only acclimated to listening to Bieber all day. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to listen to Bieber all day that is your choice, it’s just not mine.

The sound of this release is more akin to Ulver than SUNNO))) if you are familiar with both of them. It is more orchestral and atmospheric with just a few brief moments of that warbling low end crush humming through the horns of Let There Be Light, but without the oppressiveness of The Grimmrobe Demos, and far more melodic. The atmospheric quality of it along with the very minor use of vocals, imbues it with a sort of soundtrack feel. As I am listening to it right now, it is reminding me somewhat of the more drone laden portions of GYBE! F# A# Infinity. I’m sure that that is a reference to which most people can relate.

While I am on the subject of soundtracks, kind of, the other Stephen O’Malley related album that I picked up is Ambarchi O’Malley DunnShade Theme From Kairos. Stephen O’Malley as I have already mentioned, is a member of SUNNO))), Oren Ambarchi while not a member, is a regular collaborator and is often involved in live performances with SUNNO))). Randall Dunn is a producer and sound engineer that has worked with many musicians including SUNNO))) and fellow noise makers Earth and Boris. As a musician he is a founding member of the group Master Musicians of Bukkake, a truly horrible name, I know.

http://alexisds.com/

The story behind this release is that the music was created for raw footage of Alexis Destoop’s film Kairos. Now whether intentional or not, Destoop’s take is that this allows for “a blurring of the line between diegetic and non-diegetic sound and a questioning of the intricate relationship between music and the creation of a fictitious universe.” This really sounds to me like it might just be some of the art school bs that they teach you to spout off when asked the rationale behind something that you’ve done that in reality had no predetermined reasoning behind it. Considering that the film’s premise is that an apocalyptic event called the Great Temporal Catastrophe has brought an end to linear time, it seems more than apropriate to, after the fact, attach meaning to something that in all probability was done out of sheer necessity based on the time constraints of the parties involved rather than actual artistic purposes. Either way, it’s an intriguing concept and maybe it’s a really good film or it could just be another Koyaanisqatsi. I’m not saying that Koyaanisqatsi is a bad film, it’s just one of those things that you can’t really enjoy for an hour and a half unless you are really high or have convinced yourself that it is high art and deserves to be patiently and reverently viewed to accumulate your pretentious points. I would personally much rather waste my time on Fulci’s City of the Living Dead (aka Gates of Hell) or The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death) to accumulate points for my horror fan merit badges. Although it has long been a dream of mine to be able to create an intelligent artistic horror film. I’ll just keep dreaming I suppose, but in the meantime, somebody seriously needs to take the cameras away from all of the vapid Korn listening morons that seem to be the only ones dedicated to making horror films anymore. Either that or someone needs to put a bullet in the head of whichever dolt it is at Lionsgate that keeps distributing all of this crap. It used to be that you could kind of have a sense of what you were going to be subjected to based on the distributor and possibly the artwork, but that is long since a thing of the past. Now the artwork has been homogenized into a lackluster mess of David Carson grunge style Photoshopped nonsense, but even that is giving it too much credit; David Carson was original in his time and these idiots wouldn’t even be on par with his worst work on their very best day. And since it is all the same jokers making the artwork for all of this stuff, even the really good films (a rarity these days I’ll admit) are camouflaged with this same sad cover art making it impossible to discern a straight to video release shot on someone’s handheld in their backyard from a top-notch French film like Room of Death (La Chambre des Morts.) At least Room of Death is a Canal+ and IFC film, which to me still holds some clout unlike the aforementioned Lionsgate, so that beyond the stupid cover art I was able to look at the back and see that it might be at least watchable before I picked it up.

2092390

Look at that crappy US cover versus the one of the French versions. Why would you do that?

Well, I’ve gotten way off the point. I told you I’m prone to doing that especially if you get me on the subject of movies. I just watched two films that perfectly encapsulate the exact problem that I have been writing about here, maybe I will do another post and expound on that since I don’t feel I have to be exclusive to music here.
Back on point, Shade Themes from Kairos is probably my favorite of the two albums although I still really enjoy Terrestrials. You can get the vinyl of Shade Theme from Drag City for a somewhat modest $25 for a gatefold double LP and I believe Terrestrials is still available from Southern Lord in an mp3 or CD format. You might get lucky and find a vinyl copy at your local record shop though if you hurry. I know the one I got mine from still had a copy the last time I was there although I informed the person that I was shopping with that they should buy it, and they did. So don’t ask me where I got it because you won’t find it there anymore. Oh, there is also a bandcamp site from which to buy the SUNNO))) & Ulver album, that’s from where the above link came.

Yay! Bandcamp!

http://sunnulversl.bandcamp.com/

Since, we are on a somewhat similar topic, there is yet another Nordvargr release that everyone needs. I’m sorry if it seems like I am constantly inundating you guys with Nordvargr stuff, but I really like it. In addition, this is an EP of unreleased and re-worked material from For the Blood is the Life which is one of my absolute favorite Nordvargr releases. Go get it.

Later

— JS

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