Music for escape artists.

Music for escape artists. | Evocative music from the Underworld, the Otherworld and The Abyss.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Album Review: Gnaw Their Tongues - Hymns For The Broken, Swollen and Silent (2016)

There are many differing opinions out there as to what constitutes 'dark music', but albums such as the latest release from Gnaw Their Tongues, Hymns For The Broken, Swollen and Silent are unquestionably dark. This album is one of the darkest, most depraved shit-fests I have ever heard. There is no way that only one man; Maurice "Mories" De Jong (also of Aderlating, Cloak Of Altering, De Magia Veterum and others) concocted this madness. He was clearly assisted by ominous entities that hail from the dreaded Abyss; where all that is 'good' is mocked, destroyed and inverted. If I was to describe this album in a word, it would be: primal. 

The two primal urges are fucking and killing; some would include sustenance/survival, but that is only a means necessary to continue fucking and killing. This album kills everything that it fucks, and fucks everything that it kills. It is the soundtrack to sadism and psychopathy, a roving gang of mutant cavemen committing brutal genocide with the thigh bones of previously slayed and devoured mammoths.

I am not very familiar with the previous works of Mories; except for the odd track here and there, but I know enough to know that this work is a step or two further away from the sensical and the musical, and a step or two closer to the insane and the experimental. There is very little in this album that the average person would be able to identify as music and I'm sure that upon its purchase your name is immediately added to several government watch lists and some of the world's foremost authorities are promptly notified. This sickening broth utilises sounds synonymous with black metal, noise music and death industrial in a unique oppressive way that is Mories' own. The average black/death metal fan would not stand a chance against this chaos and would likely be searching for a change of underpants before the second track has begun. But, for those with the insensitive reptilian brain who are fed up with summoning demons and reveling in the mere satanic; those who find ritualistic blood orgies at the Clinton household just don't 'do it' for you anymore - this is the next step on the road to the true dark enlightenment. The 10th circle of hell has just been opened up where even Dante would not dare venture, and Hymns For The Broken, Swollen and Silent is the Golden Ticket. Access all areas.

Program drums, synths, samples and bass guitar are the main offenders on this album as well as unorthodox song structures with off beat breakdowns and unpredictable drum patterns. There is also an effective use of empty space, dramatic fall aways and dynamic range that make this album stand out compared to other such compositions in the genre that are usually choked up and crammed in mercilessly with no breathing room whatsoever. Listening to this album is a lot like being "waterboarded"; only with something much worse than water that shall be left to the imagination. There are also some unnerving vocal samples used that add to the eeriness of the sound as well as vocal tracks that spit hateful and psychotic/schizophrenic gibberish over excessive and harsh programmed blast beats.

This album I doubt would be an easy listen for anyone and it certainly wasn't for me the first time. Though I did do a little experiment with it on the second listen. 

Interview with Erang - Dungeon Synth

Erang is a one man artistic and musical entity embroiled in the fantastical world of Dungeon Synth. With a substantial discography spanning over several different genres and too many influences to list, he has crafted and nurtured a vast mythos of characters and environments all within the realm of the mythical landscape known as the "Kingdom of Erang".

In this interview we discuss the various intricacies of his music as well as his inspirations such as; RPGs, movies, literature and art. We also delve into the inherent escapist qualities of fantasy and Dungeon Synth as well as the importance of imagination and the appeal of honest, intimate and unpolished amature creativity.

Evceles: Greetings Erang, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview.
Erang: The pleasure is all mine!
Evceles: What were you doing before starting Erang; and what inspired you to start the project?
Erang: Interesting question as I've recently uploaded a video that partly answers it [LINK] I've always made music and drawings related to my inner Kingdom... until I came across a blog about dungeon synth and discovered the music of Mortiis and Lord Lovidicus... I thought I was alone and then I realized that other people might enjoy this "low-fi" fantasy music too. That's why I decided to share my music with the outside world.
Evceles: Is Erang a person, a place or both?
Erang: Both.
Evceles: It seems that Erang may embody an entire mythos such as 'Lord Of The Rings' or an RPG. Is this the case?
Erang: Definitely. There are many places (like the Dark Dungeon, the underwater kingdom, the frozen forest, Lobrok, etc.) and characters (such as the drunken tyrant, the stone giant, etc.). I made a map, you can download it here [Link], and I have many background stories. My music is only the tip of the iceberg you know... and I'm currently writing a (short) novel about my own world.
Evceles: What is your affinity with dragons?
Erang: Well, I guess that being a fan of Medieval Fantasy without having a love for dragons would be weird...
Evceles: What are some of your favourite RPGs and why?
Erang: I don't play RPG's anymore because I devoted all my free time to my music. But I have fond memories of playing MERPG, Stormbringer and Hawkmoon... and about video games, I was totally in love with Zelda III a link to the past and Secret of Mana and I still deeply love them. Recently, I've started a campaign of "Descent" the tabletop game, and it's awesome. I have a great time playing it, it reminds me of Hero Quest (that I used to play as a child).
Evceles: Would you say nostalgia plays a big part in Erang?
Erang: Nostalgia is my Kingdom.
Evceles: Your music is very melodic. Do you have a melody in your head before recording, or do you make it up as you go?
Erang: Thanks for noticing; I put a lot of work and great care into my melodies... To me, melody is the most important thing... Concerning your questions, it depends, but most of the time I think the melody comes as I'm working on a song.
Evceles: How does your music come to you?
Erang: Sometimes an atmosphere or a melody comes into my head like a thunder, other times I sit down on my computer and I start to experiment with sounds and instruments until it inspires me. I'm also influenced by external sources such as movies, books and, of course, other music. I try to think about the aspects I like about these other pieces of art and how I could express them within my own music.
Evceles: You can be seen wearing a very distinctive skull mask with corpse paint. What is the significance of the mask?
Erang: This mask is very important to me and it completely symbolizes the "spirit" of Erang. As I often say; the "Man with no Face" is the ghost of the shadows from the past. with that being said, I hope that everyone will derive their own significance from the mask. I also made a song about it, "The Man With No Face", you can check it here:
Evceles: I assume that you use some VST synths and instruments. Do you have a 'go to' VST or some favourites for making music?
Erang: It depends and changes from time to time but I mostly use soundfonts in fact, old ones, haha: most of the things I use to make music are almost vintage, but I often change them to "challenge" me because always using the same "tools" sometimes tends to make you create similar songs.
Evceles: Do you use any analogue synths?
Erang: No, even if I love their sound.
Evceles: There has always been some overlap between dungeon synth and black metal especially in the early days as there are many common themes and influences between the two genres. Do you listen to any black metal; and if so, could you share with us some of the artists you enjoy?  
Erang: First I'd like to add something; there are of course influences from black metal, "interludes" in dungeon synth, but dungeon synth is a musical genre on his own and is not a "subgenre" of black metal. Today, dungeon synth is a vast musical genre with lots of roots and lots of branches. Black metal is definitely not the only influence in dungeon synth; if you ask people into black metal if they make dungeon synth when they compose an interlude or an intro, I'm almost sure that the vast majority of them will answer "no". Dungeon synth comes mostly from escapism and fantasy. For instance, I personally consider an RPG (like Dungeons & Dragons) or Tolkien being far more influential in the "substance" of dungeon synth. To answer your question, I really love Summoning. I also like a lot of Burzum and Bathory. I love the album Enthrone Darkness Triumphant by Dimmu Borgir, but not the rest of their discography, except their first album. I like very much some tracks from Windir and Xasthur to. That's most of my favorites I guess.
Evceles: Who are some of your favourite Dungeon Synth artists?
Erang: Lord Lovidicus, Hedge Wizard, Arathgoth, Wintercry,... there are many others and I definitely need to take some time to dig more into Sequestered Keep!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Album review for DEATH FETISHIST - Clandestine Sacrament

Clandestine Sacrament is the debut full length album from Black Death Metal band Death Fetishist with two EP's released earlier in February this year. Formed in 2015 by Matron Thorn of Ævangelist, Benighted In Sodom, PrÆternatura and G. Nefarious of Panzergod and Daemoniis ad Noctum these guys are certainly no strangers to creating atmospheres of darkness and mayhem. With influences from ambient, black, death and other music; this album explores the many dark corners of the depraved human mind, inverting all that is good and worshiping all that is unholy.

"Somewhere in the rift between madness and catharsis is the true nature of Death Fetishist."

Clandestine Sacrament is a truly dark album with hypnotic and unorthodox guitar riffs that may induce a trance like state along with a more than casual lust for chaos and bad behaviour. The atmosphere of the album is very choked up; not in a claustrophobic way, but more in a Michael Hutchence hanging from a door knob kind of way... auto-erotic asphyxiation followed by accidental death by misadventure. In excess indeed; beware thrill seekers! No one ever catches the dragon, though they keep trying. Clandestine Sacrament has an aura of the darker sides of sexuality, evoking images of BDSM, studded leather and esoteric sex magick in dark ritual chambers where all fetishes are catered for by mysterious hooded vixens and relentless, alluring temptresses.

Interview with JR Robinson of Wrekmeister Harmonies

What were you doing before starting Wrekmeister Harmonies; and what inspired you to start the project?

I pumped gas, worked in a hardware store, drove a milk truck, was a stagehand in a theatre for a while….read some books, watched films, walked around a whole lot. 

You have performed live in many interesting places. Do you have a favorite location to date; and what would be your ideal location for a live performance?

Favorite location to date was this church in Bruges that had a pond inside. Maybe it was a reflecting pool but it wasn’t deep. I think the ideal place would be in a dark alley of a crowded night market on some side street in Taipei. 

I have seen that you play the guitar, do you play any other instruments and do you have a preferred instrument for your compositions?

Guitars seem to work best.  

Your music has a very organic sound and progression. Do you use the natural world as inspiration for your compositions?

Not really. I recently went camping and had zero inspiration. To be honest I hadn’t slept in a tent in about twenty years so the expectations were very low. 

Your bio on Bandcamp states; "Lightness fades into darkness, while innocence succumbs to the evils of the modern world". What do you think are the major evils of the modern world?

I’m sorry to report that upon waking on any given day it seems like I’m confronted with a multitude of major evils, probably just like you. It’s how you deal with them that matters. 

Even though you use different musicians and ideas, the end result is always identifiable as Wrekmeister Harmonies. Is texture important in your music?

I think so. I try very hard to have different layers and textures that attempt to communicate various emotions, with or without words. Sometimes it works out. 

In your compositions, is there any wiggle room for the musicians to improvise or is it strict adherence to the composition? 

The best thing about collaborating is allowing space for improvisation. Trying to maintain too much control of the situation would not be very productive. 

You seem to have a certain way with people as you get to collaborate with so many great and sometimes elusive artists, have you ever had any conflict working with others?

I had a job tending bar once and the boss was always drunk. It seemed like every day there was some sort of conflict with that guy. What a pain in the ass….always criticizing and once he called me on my day off about some completely inane bullshit. I had to quit. That was a real drag because I really needed that job but in the end it was for the best. Artistically speaking I’ve had no conflicts and I’m very grateful for that… although Thierry Amar would sometimes give me a hard time about not being interested in playing along to a click track while recording Light Falls. But when that happened I would  just pay attention to his dog Oscar who he brought along to the sessions and pretend like I didn’t hear him. 

I have seen the documentary you did for VICE; 'One Man Metal' and I found it to be fascinating. You are probably one of only a handful of people who have ever gained access to the inner worlds of those three musical projects; Leviathan, Xasthur and Striborg. Is there anything you can tell us that stood out about each encounter with these artists that we did not get to see in the documentary?

Surprisingly Wrest was the most normal. Malefic was always threatening legal action. Sin Nanna seemed genuinely lonely. Personally, I needed about a month to regain some semblance of emotional balance after completing the project. 

Was it you that got a tattoo of Leviathan’s; Howl Mockery At The Cross album cover from Wrest himself?


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review for: Wrekmeister Harmonies - Light Falls (2016)

Light Falls is the latest album from the ever-changing collaborative effort that is Wrekmeister Harmonies. Composer and master collaborator JR Robinson with trusty sidekick Esther Shaw, form the nucleus of the latest embodiment of Wrekmeister which breaks from tradition with a smaller collective of musicians from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and a more typical album structure of seven shorter tracks rather than one or two long compositions. Despite this drastic change in approach; the familiar sounds, themes and textures of Wrekmeister Harmonies remain fully intact while expressing new realms of atmosphere and emotion. This is a testament to the unique and personal approach applied to JR Robinson's compositions and his versatility as an artist.

Wrekmeister Harmonies is known for compelling live shows at unorthodox and fascinating venues such as museums, mausoleums, cemeteries and many other interesting places such as; the Andy Warhol Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge and Chicago's Bohemian National Cemetery which add to the aura and ambience of the music. Along with the unusual locations are the exceptional musicians that have joined Wrekmeister throughout its many transformations including artists such as; Wrest (Jef Whitehead) of Leviathan, Alexander Hacke of Einstürzende Neubauten, David Yow of The Jesus Lizard, Chip King and Lee Buford of The Body, Marissa Nadler, Sanford Parker of Minsk, the cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, Chris Brokaw of Codeine, jazz composer Ken Vandermark and many more.

It is clear that JR Robinson has a certain way with people. He manages to seek out and uncover the vast talents found in the musical underworld and shed light on dark places that others would only dream of. I think people can sense that this guy is for real; he means what he does and he is an artist with a vision that needs to be fully realised with the assistance of others. A perfect example of this rapport with other artists can be found within the VICE Media documentary 'One Man Metal' in which JR is the host and correspondent. The film uncovers the hidden misanthropic lives and gives us glimpses into the fascinating, obfuscated existences of three elusive Black Metal figures; Wrest (Jef Whitehead) of Leviathan, Malefic (Scott Connor) of Xasthur and Sin Nanna (Russell Menzies) of Striborg. Few people (if any) would have been able to gain access to these artists in the way that JR did. To show how far he was willing to go to prove sincerity and gain trust with Jef Whitehead (who is a tattoo artist by day), there is a scene in which JR books a spot at the tattoo parlour where Whitehead works. He requests a tattoo of the symbols displayed on the album cover of the Leviathan album; Howl Mockery At The Cross (2005). Following this, Whithead agreed to feature in the documentary. He even managed to convince a reluctant Malefic to show his face and drop some vocals for the first time on camera.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Album Review for: öOoOoOoOoOo - Samen (2016) | Avant-Garde Rock

Samen is the debut album from; öOoOoOoOoOo ('Chenille' in French or 'Caterpillar' in English). The unique fusion of avant-garde rock with too many genres and influences to list; a total mind-fuck of perfected abstract art, music and naked bodies. Full range female vocals, at times reminiscent of 'Evanescence' and exceptional musical stylings take the listener on a journey through a schizophrenic multi-verse of experimental extravagance.

Where to start with this album...? Probably a good point would be at the beginning.

To be honest, when I first looked at the band name: 'öOoOoOoOoOo', I thought; what? 'Oooooooooo' like a ghost sound or something... that's pretty lame. Then the album cover/booklet with naked bodies awkwardly lying on top of each other with 'tasteful' full frontal nudity, a man with a very 'suspicious' looking chest and odd, unnatural nude poses shot in what seemed to be a art gallery. I assumed this was going to be some overly pretentious, 'artistic' nonsense; like Yoko Ono's (a'hem)... vocal 'performance' in a gallery that I saw on YouTube.

*See here: (but brace yourselves, it's pretty bad; probably worse than bad).

The type of 'art' only appreciated by anal-retentive c*nts who sip on overpriced sparkling grape juice at a modern art show while contemplating the intricacies of a large canvas painted solid black or attempting to uncover the 'hidden meanings' behind a heap of rotting garbage piled up randomly on a marble floor. I was almost not even going to bother listening to it... but for some reason I grit my teeth and dived in with much hesitation; like eating snails or frog's legs for the first time.

Boy was I wrong... this album is a masterpiece! I was thoroughly seduced and taken full advantage of by this album. Now begins the long walk home from an unknown part of town with slight amnesia, a strange sense of accomplishment, several scratches/bruises, a backwards t-shirt, no money, one shoe and someone else's pants.