the severed tongue, the haunted fog, the family crypt: new from aetheric recordsAugust 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
Tags: aetheric records, drone, edgar allan poe, gothic horror, last year at marienbad, more black then god, new music, no audience underground, noise, people-eaters, sean derrick cooper marquardt, slowthaw, the magic of the post, troy schafer
Troy Schafer – Rigid Oppression (business card CD-r with pin badge, aetheric records, edition of 23)
more black then god – 1964 ZEN IN THE DRONES (3” CD-r, aetheric records, edition of 20)
people-eaters – disincarnate (CD-r with stickers and pin badge, aetheric records, edition of 20)
My love of the post is obsessive, bordering on fetishistic. The fact that in exchange for a small(ish) amount of money you can make an object disappear from your presence and reappear elsewhere in the world sometime later is magical to me. Despite grumbling about the continuing ubiquity of ‘stuff’ in these sleek, downloadable times the novelty never seems to wear off.
As you can imagine, running a blog in celebration of a fringe art form created by a taskforce of the unco-opted invites odd correspondence. Many’s the time that the contents of a parcel have caused a raised eyebrow. Always notable, for example, are packages from Dr. Adolf Steg of Spon – the painting/collage encrusted with toenail clippings being especially alarming – but a couple of weeks ago he was momentarily outdone: Alistair of aetheric records sent me a severed tongue.
It wasn’t real, thankfully, just a squishy, sticky, joke-shop toy – the sort of thing a ghoulish pre-teen might throw at his classroom window to gross-out his contemporaries – but it made me jump, then made me laugh. It fit right in with the goth/horror aesthetic of the label too. Sadly, it had leaked a foul, petrol-smelling, oily substance over everything in the envelope but, hey, it’s the thought that counts. It also reminded me that I’d had a couple of his releases on the pile for months now and that I should really dig them out. Now, I don’t want the lesson you take away from this to be ‘send Rob body parts = jump the queue’ but I have to admit it was a diverting tactic…
I mentioned the goth/horror aesthetic. This isn’t the backwoods/back alley grindcore of, say, certain Matching Head/Oracle atmospheres, more a sort of Victorian gothic: dimly lit séances, air thick with incense, charlatans fooling the gullible with fake ectoplasm and stigmata only to be dragged under themselves by offended spirits. Occasionally it reaches a tentacle into the cosmic horror of Lovecraftian weird tales or, in moments of full-on noise, to the tongue-severing schlock of EC Comics. The packaging is artfully realised – sharing a Pennine-corridor affiliation with Crow Versus Crow – and the releases are, by and large, conveniently short.
Presented on a dinky business card CD-r and clocking in at a mere five minutes, Rigid Oppression by Troy Schafer delivers a right kicking. This is the visceral clattering of actual physical objects being violently rearranged. I often find this kind of noise comical at first – like a floppy-fringed teenager ordered to sort the recycling and making as much racket as possible because it’s just not fair – but repeat listens reveal the chaos is contained within a bowed rise and fall. I imagine the breathing of a junkyard Smaug, his heaving chest – lungs ragged from years of smoking – dislodging detritus from the mountain of crap he is splayed across.
more black then god [sic], nom de plume of Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt, stretches his three tracks to a relatively epic total of 20 minutes. This is the stuff of seafaring nightmare – sodden souls gripping the slippery rail of their ghost ship as it glides into harbour. There is a formal, shot-in-black-and-white, austerity to it too though, as if the haunted fog is rolling in over the manicured lawns of L’Année dernière à Marienbad. Bourgeois hotel guests shift uneasily as they play the matchstick game and order another cocktail. There is a tapping at the window…
disincarnate is the latest from aetheric house band people-eaters and is the longest of the trio at just under half an hour. On the album’s Bandcamp page it is noted that…
This album contains eight threnodies for my late father (1942-2013).
…which I found rather numbed my critical response. There is a passage in Martin Amis’s autobiography in which, to paraphrase, he describes reaching a point in middle age when the only things that have any real importance are births and deaths. I am (un)comfortably within that zone myself now and, as such, my reaction to a dedication like that is to listen to the music in a solemn and contemplative mood. It isn’t conducive to flights of descriptive fancy but I see that, as ever, I am late to the party and reviews rich in the figurative can already be read at heathenharvest, riverrockreviews, forestpunk and musicuratum – all written by talents less psychologically squeamish than me.
What I can say is that I was impressed that the band’s usual atmosphere of dread has not been dialled back in the slightest. This is a wake as desolate as could be described by Poe and, shockingly, the sixth track, ‘me mokutu vakamatea’, contains a poem written by fellow aetheric label mate slowthaw reminiscent of Poe’s translator Baudelaire or maybe something from a ritual hallucinated in a Lovecraftian fever-dream. Given the declared context it is bold stuff. I listened to this album whilst sat in a sun trap created by the concrete geometries of the campus where I work and was transported to a windswept, hillside graveyard where a group of horrified mourners wonder what the hell could have torn the doors from the family crypt…