My wife insists that there’s no such thing as “catching up” on sleep, that getting 10 hours of sleep doesn’t really make up for getting 5 hours of sleep the night before. All I know is that today the bags under my eyes look more like satchels than the usual fully packed duffels. But the 10 hours of slumber I got last night produced a late start on this column this morning, and thus a bit of hurrying in both the selections and the writing.
Still, I’m happy with what I chose and hope you will be too. As for the writing, well, it’s of secondary importance after all
The discovery of 0-Nun‘s debut EP The Shamanic Trilogy Part I – Nihility Ascetics proved to be a big bright spot at 2020’s mid-point. As the title suggests, it was the first part of a conceptual work, which 0-Nun describes as follows: “It deals with the notions of inexistence, nothingness, void and all absence of being but in a shamanic way. It is a paradox per se: it portrays what is not from a conscience perspective”.
I reviewed that EP here, and thankfully we didn’t have to wait long for the next installment: On August 7th 0-Nun released The Shamanic Trilogy Part II – Dissociate, Alienate. It’s just as much of a stunner as Part 1.
It is the sound of one man’s trans-dimensional nightmarish visions realized in immersive sound — visions of wretchedness and beseeching, of cold cruelty and vicious ecstasy, of shamanistic incantation and primitive trance, of crushing destruction and fleeting celestial beauty, all of it shrouded in an unearthly atmosphere of dread, menace, and magic.
Many instrumental ingredients feed into these conjurings, including the sounds of flute, sax (and/or clarinet?), and bass violin, as well as the usual metal instruments and shimmering synths. The music ignites the imagination, often in unsettling ways, but its rhythms exert a primal grip.
This video was released in April, for a song from an album that was released in March of last year. So, it’s not “hot off the presses”, but I just encountered the video and song today and was struck by it.
The mid-paced music is heavy and jolting, heaving and harrowing, and thoroughly steeped in wretchedness (the anguished hopelessness of the vocals is especially wrenching). Jørgen Munkeby of Shining contributes a guest performance on the saxophone, and steals the show. At about the 2:30 mark the band switch into a physically compulsive, repeating bass-and-drum rhythm and just let him go wild. It’s absolutely transfixing. And chaos reigns in the finale.
During Munkeby‘s portion of the song the lyrics are replaced by depressing quotations from literary figures across history, one of which is from Baudelaire. It seems to encapsulate a lot of what the song is about: “Two rights should be added to the list of the human rights: the right to disorder and the right to leave”.
The song is “Destrvktivism“. The album is The Insurgent. It was released by Concreto Records and is available on Bandcamp.
The next song, “Aghori, Flame of Knowledge“, is indeed an extravagant blaze of sound, all hurtling blast-beats and gales of fiery, majestic riffing and flickering lead guitar — though the band do frequently drop into a dirge-like pace, in which the music becomes penetrating in its sadness. At both speeds, the emotional power of the music is gripping, as is the sheer terrifying lunacy of the vocals. At the end, the song changes again — radically — becoming soft, soulful, and seductive.
Jakub Moth‘s amazing video for the song is just as gripping as the music. The album cover was created by Misanthropic-Art.
The song comes from a debut album named Black Mirror Reflection, which will be released on October 30 by Eisenwald, though I’ve discovered that it seems to have been first released on tape in 2018. Svabhavat are reportedly from the U.S. Pacific Northwest, but even though that’s where I’m located I don’t know anything more about them.
PRE-ORDER / PRE-SAVE:
If you don’t know about Valravne, then you haven’t been frequenting this site as often as I wish you would. If you’d like to catch up, you could read my two previous posts about this North Carolina project behind this link. On Bandcamp Friday, Valravne released yet another EP, titling it as a sequel to a previous one named Some Kind of Vampire. It’s a tremendously varied experience.
The opener “Nothing Left To Corrupt” kicks things off in a thundering and blazing rush, with a couple of early solos that are heroic. The song does have its moody and menacing aspects, but the super-heated energy of the track and its blaring melodies leave a dominant impression. The second track “I Only Pray For Your Death” channels a wild ferocity, leavened with grand swirling and cascading melodies, fret-melting solos, and berserker vocals, while “Raped Into Existence” is a manifestation of gloom and abandonment that takes flight, becoming a conflagration of riotous despair.
And the last of these four, “Lucid Nightmare”, sort of betrays its title, because (at least to these ears) it’s resilient and defiant in its sound. The guitar instrumental that comes after the mid-point, which ventures far outside the conventional boundaries of black metal, is unmistakably buoyant and bright.
Raat is another old favorite whose music I’ve written about frequently. This next song is a single named “The Black Crow” that was released this past Bandcamp Friday. I would have listened to it anyway, but the painting by Edward Robert Hughes that appears on the cover happens to be a personal favorite, so the impulse to listen was even more irresistible.
The song is a sad one, its sorrow deriving as much from the haunting singing as from the melancholy cascading chords, but it’s a majestic and mesmerizing track nonetheless. Like the last of those new Valravne songs, it ventures beyond the conventional boundaries of black metal, getting close to the borders of shoegaze and synthwave, but that’s been a hallmark of this project all along. It builds toward a climax of soul-splintering intensity.
The title of the album that’s home to this next song — Numinous Negativity — is well-chosen, at least so far as one might judge from the song. The name of the song, “Omnipresent Abominations“, is suggestive of other aspects of the musical experience.
Blinding-fast blast-beats, dense swarming waves of raw yet luminous riffage, and horrifying roars and wails greet the ears in dramatically intense fashion. Despite the fireball energy of the music, the cascades of melody and the febrile leads have a tremendously beleaguered tone. The song further plumbs the depths of that desolation when the drum rhythms shift gears into less feverish cadences. It’s a distillation of undiluted terror and anguish, the kind of music that’s deeply unsettling yet it grabs hold and won’t let go.
Numinous Negativity will be released by Signal Rex on October 9th.
“I SAW THE WORLD END”
Our old friend Booker surfaced again last week after a time away, and in addition to scattering comments around many of our recent posts he e-mailed me about the video that I’ve chosen to end this column. I think it’s a brilliantly conceived and executed piece of art. It’s absolutely terrifying, and it shakes the soul so hard because it is a documentation of real historical events.
It takes as its subject the detonation of atomic weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago, on August 6 and 9. It was created by two women, Es Devlin and Machiko Weston, and it was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum as part of its program to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
In the video you will see two sets of text scrolling above and below a screen-splitting line, which you might imagine as signifying the splitting of the atom and its consequences. As described on the IWM site:
“Half of the text, read by Devlin in English, traces the origination of the atomic bomb in fiction by HG Wells, the account of the translation directly from fiction to physics by Leo Szilard, and the aspiration, rationale and rehearsal by the leading protagonists of the Manhattan project. This half of the text spans over 75 years.
“The other half of the text is read in Japanese by Weston with simultaneous translation into English. The Japanese texts are all accounts of the two moments in time – the moments the atomic bombs landed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
The music that accompanies the video provides a beautifully realized atmosphere. It will take you 10 minutes to take this in, and I strongly urge you to do it. Among other things it reminds us that weapons capable of unleashing destruction on a humanity-ending scale still exist — and are subject to the control of many people (including America’s president) who can barely be trusted to control a ham sandwich.
For more information about this stunning video, go here.