Arthame Fiendish Symphonies

arthame-flyer-aDark ambient of the type that can fall into categories such as dungeon synth or the more cosmic variety type of spacing out is an interesting companion of black metal that retains the whole atmosphere minus the transcendental aggression of the former. The way texture tends to vary throughout rather constant expanses and the attachment to long and simple but expressive melodies is itself a refinement of the musical spirit of black metal. Arthame’s Fiendish Symphonies, in particular, is a clear attempt to fuse the two together in an obvious acknowledgement of this kinship.

The writing methodology for each song is exactly the same, producing something akin to constant-texture riffs that are entirely adequate for synthesizer. The sounds selected for the synthesizer are not changed and they are kept minimal so as to further enhance the sense of a certain approach. These effects are changed a bit in different tracks depending on the wanted effect, but they always remain in the vicinity so that the artistic voice in the writing is further enhanced and supported by a particular instrumental timber. As an additional touch, their are brief inclusions of rasped vocals in the background of this pensive music.

Given these observations, it is only fair to look at Fiendish Symphonies as distilled black metal; we can hear the sombre and impersonal mood that alludes to night-sky contemplation along with a self-realization away from the mediocrity of the crowd; there is loneliness in this music, and yet, a soft whispering of a serpent perhaps, or of the Earth itself, or is it the Moon itself drawing us towards it? Is it the memory of blood and soil that links us to this planet in different ways? Is it a call to the stars? I am inclined to believe it is all of these, and a shadow-call for us to reconnect with what saw us become human, and what gave rise to our dark beauty that cannot be contained in deterministic models.

Arthame communicates this vision and leaves us wondering of a possible brethren amongst the stars, although we cannot tell if such a cosmic desolation is a premonition of the future of humanity in projections based on an ancestral memory of our more primitive past here on Earth. As a fulfillment of the black metal ideal, Arthame conjoins all of these together beyond rationality, and in individual discernment beyond opposites in a holistic apprehension of reality that is at once intuitive and logical.

Gorgoroth Live in Hilversum ’96

gorgorothlivehilversum96The present is a live presentation by Gorgoroth poorly recorded in 1996 in Hilversum. The six songs contained here are selected from Pentagram and Antichrist, arguably the two best releases by this band, whom soon after lost their touch for obscurity and moved on to raw crudeness without sensitivity and then towards completely sterile technical performance. This is a snapshot of a golden era, of the music even if not the people, in which black metal was magickal, engulfing and sincere in a bare-bones manner.

Many will find the quality of the recording so poor that they will wish to pass on it; many would argue if there is any good reason to listen to such an unclear and distorted recording if one can simply listen to the first two albums, whose production is already raw enough but with a nice, clear sound to go with it. One could simply answer saying that they are two different experiences to appreciate different aspects or to contemplate them from different vantage points.

The decay and death in the sound is so pervasive and overbearing that the recordings are indeed blurred, indeed going beyond conceptions of delightful nekro sound. A good reason, however, to listen to a recording such as this is that it forces the listener to actually listen with all his intent and attention; it is as if the listener had to earn the privilege of the the music. Furthermore, the conditions make it so that the live recording must be listened to in a quiet environment, and it needs concentrated attention.

What ends up happening is that only the overarching gestures, broadest textural changes and structural progressions are reflected in this recording, while the details are certainly obfuscated to a degree that they are rendered out of the question for study. He who would properly peruse and thus appreciate this record it to a full and ecstatic experience need tune in to the motions of the music as if to the rhythms of an ocean’s tide under the ravenous moon.

Barry Cooper Beethoven

barry-cooper-beethovenBarry Cooper proposes in this medium-sized biography to give us a picture of Beethoven through a study of his music as the central theme of the composer’s life. In part, this is an endeavour to correct the many vituperous and fanciful biographies and commentary that became fashion after the middle of the 20th century to denigrate any historical European figure that might pose as a kind of hero; such dirty tactics often employed cryptic Freudian readings and other such magical means of divining colorful thoughts shaped more according to the writers of such nonsense than to what we could, in fact, confirm or see clearly in the object of their decadent trains of thought.

What Cooper shows us is he portrait of a genius of a composer along with all the quirks and vulnerabilities that Beethoven suffered from. We are shown his idealistic ramblings and acts, from a well-meaning but also quite believable point of view. For the music enthusiast, the passion that Cooper transmits along with the copious yet not overbearing amount of technical details and descriptions is more than a delight, it is the concretion of the figure of the composer who gives his life for higher art; and in so doing, someone like Beethoven crafted works that are either immortal, or at least the future benchmark for Western classical music.

An impartial reader might also, however, be drawn to notice the negative effects of such an imbalanced asceticism, which suffered from such neglect on part of Beethoven towards so great portions of his life and being that one might contend whether he was actually a genius or simply an obsessive nerd whose whole ego rested on his musical accomplishment. At least ‘equally great’ composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach (which I am inclined to consider superior as a whole) certainly did not destroy or neglect their lives as a kind of payment; rather, greater artists seem to live a life of nurture and an impulse away from their natural indulgence and sensitivity towards maturity to some extent (see Sibelius, for instance).

Among the things that Groome does not hide from us, is the great emotional immaturity that Beethoven always displayed, and that he at least recognized as a part of himself, thought he may perhaps not have called it immaturity or indeed a completely negative trait. The music of Beethoven is the technical peak of Western European classical tradition in music, and it achieves such a feat by a brutal dedication by the composer who virtually gave his life for such an immortality of name. His dreams aligned with a kind of Masonic worship of the quasi-gnostic Godhead, and an ignorant artist’s dreams of human equality and what not (which superficiality can be observed in his changed dedication of his 3rd Symphony). A great work he left, but a poor example of a life well-lived.

David Groome An Introduction to Cognitive Psychology

groome-psychology

Psychology as a scientific endeavor is not a particular interest of mine, but rather I see it as a necessary means to several ends, one of which is simply the understanding of the relationship between human beings and reality. What is interesting and revealing is how some theories of mind have come to be supported by observed fact, even though this does not necessarily ‘prove’ them in the scientific sense of the word (scientific theories are never proven, they’re only continually not disproven, as Karl Popper would say).

Mandler’s organisation theory suggests that memory is structured into a semantic network of related items, and accessing each item activates the whole network.

—p. 170, in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Reference: Mandler, G. (2011). From association to organisation. Psychological Science, 20, 232-235.

What is fascinating about cognitive psychology, as presented by Groome, is that it attempts to bring all methods under the most scientific, and thus impartial and objective, approach that will look for physical/biological parallels and observable events of complex but distinguishable aspects of the mind.

Evem very early in the visual system there appear to be (at least) two basic distinct streams of information flowing back from the retina (Shapley, 1995). These streams are referred to as the parvocellular and magnocellular (…) These pathways carry information back to the primary visual cortex. (…) [Then] the visual infrmation is maintained in (at least) two distinct streams. One stream is termed the ventral stream and leads to inferotemporal cortex and the other, leading to parietal cortex, is known as the dorsal stream.

—p. 46, in ‘The Difference Between Sensation and Perception’. Reference: Shapley, R. (1995). Parallel neural pathways and visual function. In M.S. Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences (pp. 315-324). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

It should be by now evident, to those with a certain independence of mind, self-honesty and a realist logic, that most people live their lives in illusion; this statement can be extended and made specific by saying that a greater part of people’s perceptions and memories are at least distorted, if not outright fabrications. This has to do with the capacity for reception and then the host of factors that affect the storage and subsequent retrievals of memory.

Bartlett concluded that subjects tended to rationalise the story to make it fit in with their own expectations, based on their own experience and understanding of the world [schema].

—P. 161, in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’, reference: Bartlett, F.C. (1992), Remembering, Cambridge Press University.

The beauty of a scientific endeavor such as the practical study of cognitive psychology is that it can show us this is demonstrable in terms of the complex systems of sensation and perception, and the manner in which they are constantly liable to frequent and irredeemable distortion. What was most interesting to me as I read the early chapters, was how much, to my mind and limited understanding of what little I was able to grasp of Critique of Pure Reason, the modern theory of psychology in its most refined and scientific carrying out corroborated more than a few of Kant’s philosophical derivations about the mind and its limits.

Sensation will be considered to be the ‘raw’ bottom-up input from the senses, and perception will be considered to be the end result of the processing of that sensory material within the visual system.

—p.36, in ‘The Difference Between Sensation and Perception’


§ History and Human Fallibility


For better or for worse, in today’s world it is history, and certain narratives of it, which shape our conception of reality, with some degree also relying on a politicized interpretation of scientific research. Hence, it makes sense to concentrate on the perception of the world as a whole from the case of the recording of what we know as history and its subsequent retelling, supposed confirmation and utterly-unscientific moral/cultural judgement.

There is a very good reason why eye-witness accounts are the lowest and most distrusted form of evidence in a modern court of law worth its salt: not only can eye-witnesses be convinced to say anything, either by others or by themselves, but human impression and memory itself is known to be so fallible and prone to distortion that very little stock can be placed on it, in general.

Di Lollo et al. (2000) demonstrated that changing one stimulus rapidly for another disrupted processing of the first stimulus, a process referred to as masking.

—p. 43, in ‘The Difference Between Sensation and Perception’. Reference: Di Lollo, V., Enns, J.T. and Rensink, R.A. (2000). Competition for consciousness among visual events: The psychophysics of reentrant visual processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 129 (4), 481-507.

Most of what we consider history, however, boils down to eyewitness accounts of people with preconceived ideas, or opinions and judgement arising later. Where we may find some physical evidence indicating a series of possibilities, historical narrative is, most of the time, based on the greatly distorted view of an interested party. The historian himself, moreover, usually spouses a certain narrative himself and is never a truly neutral and impartial agent.

Distortion of eyewitness testimony by previous schemas has also been investigated, (…), memory was likely to be distorted for any events they had witnessed which were inconsistent with their previous knowledge and schemas.

—p. 164, in Chapter 6:’Long-term memory’, reference: Tuckey, M.R. and Brewer, N. (2003). How schemas affect eyewitness memory over repeated retrieval attempts. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17, 785-800.

One would think that historians have taken serious account of this already throughout the 20th century, but the truth of the matter is that, for all their so-called ‘corroboration tactics’, their conclusions and opinions always remain their sole judgement of situations that at best could be considered murky. This is how, even today, there is a great divide in opinions, among scholars, about the nature of the series of events that we know today as The Crusades. For the major events, even in recent history, such as the two World Wars for instance, very little besides specific events such as major battles or troop and logistic movements are actually verifiable, and only up to a certain degree. All else is affected by trauma, propaganda, prejudice or outright lies that are spread by rumor and become consensus and which consensus forms the basic material that historians study: their ‘truth’ amounts to whatever the documents of some people said they saw.

Context reinstatement is only effective when the participant is paying attention to their surroundings, and its effects may be masked by distraction or stress.

—p.176, in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Reference: Thompson, L.A., Williams, K.L., L’Esperance, P.R. and Cornelius, J. (2001). Context-dependent memory under stressful conditions: the case of skydiving. Human Factors, 43, 611-619.

When asked to recall autobiographical events from earlier in their lives, people in a sad or depressed mood tend to recall a disproportionate number of sad and depressing events…

—p. 177, in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Reference: Miranda, R. and Kihlstrom, J.F. (2005). Mood congruence in childhood and recent autobiographical memory. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 981-988.

It has been discovered that practising the retrieval of a memory trace not only strengthens that trace, it also apparently inhibits the retrieval of rival memory traces.

—p. 187, in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Anderson, M.C., Bjork, R.A. and Bjork, E.L. (1994). Remembering can cause forgetting: Retrieval dynamics in long-term memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 20, 1063-1087.

…there is evidence that people are able to deliberately suppress a memory if instructed to do so, and this is assumed to involve effortful and conscious processing.

—p. 190,  in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Barnier, A.J., Conway, M.A., Mayoh, L. and Speyer, J. (2007). Directed forgetting of recently recalled autobiographical memories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 301-322.

For all intents and purposes, the greater fallibility of the historian himself comes into play when he judges the sparse accounts; which are by no means actual evidence of anything except a consensus that may arise from a variety of situations, non of which actually means things actually happened as claimed. The more scientific approach is to, of course, only submit to the highest level of verification and the highest forensic standards. Some cross-verification works: two or more truly and completely independent sources stating the exact same details. But this last is very rare in history.

Many experts argue that most recovered memories are actually false memories. —p. 378

Highly emotional states, both negative and positive, impair deductive reasoning. —p.395


§ All in all


 Groome’s book is a gold mine for those wishing to understand why the field of History is such a fickle area of study that is only supported by the political inclinations of the status quo and society’s religious respect for academic figures. Studies in amnesia, significant memory distortion and how common it is, disorders of cognition, witness manipulation and more are included in the book if only as ways to discuss the introduction to the scientific studies.

There is more actual history to be learned from archeaologists with a bent for the chemical sciences than from so-called Historians, which we might better compare to paper-research-based story-tellers. So much rides on this fanciful story-telling that the status quo will always go out of its way to create ‘educational’ campaigns, propaganda and even laws to protect the myths that shape a certain directed ‘reality’.

False memory studies offer a possible explanation of the way that recovered memories, or at least some of them, could have been created by misinformation and possibly even by the therapeutic process itself.

—p.199,  in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’.

  • Reference 1: Loftus, E.F., and Davis, D. (2006). Recovered Memories.. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2, 469-498.
  • Reference 2: Geraerts, E. Schooker, B.J., Merckelbach, H., Jelicic, M., Hauer, B.J., and Ambadar, Z. (2007). The reality of recovered memories: corroborating continuous and discontinuous memories of childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Science, 18, 564-568.

[M]ost judges have little knowledge of research findings about eyewitness memory, and jurors know even less.

—p. 200,  in Chapter 6: ‘Long-term memory’. Reference: Benton, S. et al (2006). Eyewitness memory is still not common sense: Comparing jurors, judges and law enforcement to eyewitness experts. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 115-129.

Marie Cachet Le Besoin d’Impossible


To begin with, we should make it clear that whatever is written here on the ideas proposed in Le Besoin d’Impossible by Marie Cachet are the sole interpretation in the understanding of this reader. French is not my strong suit, though it is manageable in writing, and though Cachet’s propositions are set forth in a very formal and logical manner, metaphysical treatises are not known for their accessibility. That said, I am glad to have been able to make it through with a dictionary in hand and a resonance with many of the ideas being put forth, especially towards the end.

It should be clear that this is but a casual, and rather short, commentary on and an emphatic recommendation of the book; the book is short but dense, and is designed to take the reader step by step in logical derivations. It is not precisely a ‘fun’ read, for it is straight up metaphysics, but it does make some bold and interesting points as part of the journey of reason it takes the reader on. If I have misunderstood, I hope the reader and Marie Cachet will forgive me; on my part, I also try to elaborate my own thoughts on this wonderful book.

It is also worth mentioning that upon finishing this book, it struck me that it is actually an excellent formal companion to Varg Vikernes’ Reflections on European Mythology and Polytheism, also published in 2016. Besides that, it seemed to me like the remarks of Cachet towards the end of her book pertaining artistic creation and the ‘temporalization’ of the Eternal in them were an excellent descriptor of the whole intent of Burzum‘s music.


§ The Need for Transcendence


   The main idea of Le Besoin d’Impossible is that humans not only have a predisposition towards the need of finding meaning in the things they do and their life as a whole, but are even hardwired to do so. That means that the moment they find themselves in a position where all transcendent ideas, such as religion, myth, and ideals in general, are taken away from them, they enter a cycle of despair. These ideas are understood beyond what moderns would refer to as ‘superstition’ or ‘mere beliefs’, and require the comprehension of a different mode of thought in a world where religion attains the character of the objective in the eyes of the individual.

The topic is rather well-suited for our modern world, in which a greater part of the population has fallen into this mode of thought; the lower way of life that cycles between the need to survive and the need to escape from the life of survival. Today, humankind believes it has been freed from what it sees as the chains of religion; in truth, it has only changed a kind of religion for another. When before it looked towards the gods and the priests, perhaps, now it looks towards the government and the science establishment. Whether people want to dispute the validity of such claims does not change the fact that people in general do treat these authorities as their new anchor for meaning and purpose.

 The book is divided into three parts in which it presents the claim, elaborates a metaphysical core of thought and thence presents a higher conclusion based the first two. Not deeming myself completely in command of the arguments, I will only briefly explain what each of the three chapters of the book were roughly about.

The first was an establishment of certain premises for the book, including the idea of despair as motivation in modern man to surrender to faith (concentrating on the Christian religion); how this also part of the entertainment humans look for to distract them from the desperation that arises from their own realization of how little they understand and have within themselves. The book necessarily starts from an accurate condemnation of Darwinist Evolution and Freudian Psychology as the companions of the Judeo-Christian faith as the main promoters of guilt and thence blind faith in modern man.


§ We live the Beauty of Eternity


The second chapter goes into a brief metaphysical exposition of the point of view that matter is all there is. That space may permeate matter but that there is no such thing as space without matter; furthermore, that time is the evolution (the change) of matter. This seems to be roughly put together with the Descartian idea of cogito ergo sum (something I was never convinced of, and now am sure is not valid —think hard enough on your own, or read Kant), to then, basically, put forth the idea that all there is for us to know is what is experienced. The latter I consider, perhaps, one of the weakest points in the book, if only because I digress with Descartes.

More interestingly, and arising from the trinity of existence in space, matter and time, is the idea of Eternity within each moment. Such a derivation needs but self-honesty and a logical, mentality stripped off sophistry and unnecessary convolutions that can see through to the bases and simple origins. The idea is that your recollection of the past is merely a present interpretation of reconstructions and hints of memory, the future that has not come to pass does not really exist, and so all that you really have is a continuous fluxion of states that we call the immediate present.

Since in that moment we are perceiving a finite bit of the total of existence, that is, we as finite beings are presencing the all that is, by our available means of perception, essentially infinite, we can say that Eternity, the Eternal, as a whole, is captured or peeked through in every waking moment. That is to say, the window is there, and we are living through it throughout or continued existence. The option to actually stop and witness it or to keep summoning the imagined past or the non-existent possible set of future situations is a decision. The door is there, says Marie Cachet, and it is the individual who chooses to open it as much as he will, or to close it completely.

Le point de vue seul doit changer pour transposer le sujet humain et fini dans l’Éternité, le présent. En effet, le corps, ou même la conscience humaine, est fini(e) et limité(e), mais l’Éternité est bien présente, partout, et l’unique présent. Nous pouvons comparer l’accès de l’homme à l’Éternité à une porte que le sujet peut ouvrir plus ou moins ou fermer totalment.


§ Knowledge of the maze we tread


 As a direct consequence of the derivation of the accessibility of the Eternal in the experience of every conscious human being, the idea of divinity is discussed. Divinity as an amoral (as in lacking the idea of good and evil) state of what is and what permeates reality, as opposed to what humans project onto it. Our relationship to this Eternal, and to the Divine, would appear to lie in the degrees in which we are aware of it and in how we think of it or make use of it.

Its amoral —neutral, as Cachet says— nature in itself is uncaring in the human moral sense; and any distinctions lie only in how close we humans get to perceiving it as it is. Cachet wanted us, from the beginning of the book, to move away from the modern concept of subjective and objective as if they were dichotomies that represent what is real and what is imaginary. And so this ‘subjectively’ perceived divinity is ‘objetive’ in that it is a thing in itself, though perhaps not in the sense that modernity uses the term to signify ‘scientific material confirmability’, and must be approached through inner changes of oneself.

In tandem and as an introduction the concept of will is presented; the will not as a creator, but as the instrument that enables us to redirect and channel forth the Eternal —the infinite— into finite forms that are reproducible in one way or another. Will is also presented as the attraction between spaced out particles of the eternal, which through this separation and polarity create every kind of motion and ultimately represent love at both a higher and more earthly levels.1

The crown of the book, and of these beautiful derivations, is found in the arrival at the traditional idea of the labyrinth of life lived with a transcendental awareness; that in presencing the Eternal, and so connecting with the Divine in ourselves and in everything else, we may rise in that Present and contemplate the maze that life is; in so doing we descry the center of the maze, and so attain our own secret purpose and meaning.

Such words may appear as mere words to those who will not plunge into the depths on their own and need to be guided; but such a feat, and such a world, can only be attained and traveled to through that contemplation and by that stopping of time into essentially what is. To do so is an individual effort, and one that requires simply that one directs one’s senses; it is a simplifying towards what is always there, and away from the complex illusions that abstractions and hubris have created.


Footnotes

It bears mentioning that this idea echoes ancient Indian cosmogony, and Greek philosophy; both of these also find more obscure and esoteric correspondences in the incredibly ancient lore of Hyperborean Europe. More than a few serious works have been written on this topic, but a certain one should be referenced that touches on the traces of Scandinavian lore which can be found in Vedic lore with remains in certain vestiges in ancient Persia. These three constitute the main trilogy of ancient Aryan foundation, as I understand. The interested reader should refer to The Arctic Home of the Vedas, by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Nekrokrist SS Suicide

nekrokrist-ss-suicide-2007Understood in the destructive, hardcore vision that seem to imbue the spirit of the music and the lyrical references, we could well posit that the proposition and purpose of this album, beyond bringing the listener face to face with the very real idea of suicide, is to encourage such an action among those who entertain it. That could also only be the imagination and desires of the author himself playing a trick; in any case, it seems like an option worthy of exploration  given how needed death is today. Today, suicide is viewed in horror even by supposed non-religious secular society; this is because it has inherited the humanist values that it adopted from the dogmas of Christianity. Many of us rather believe that suicide is a kind of what we could call a ‘natural right’

For those who are honorable or those who have vested the meaning of their whole life in something which has turned to naught, it seems perfectly fair to allow them to decide whether or not they want to keep on living. After all, what else does man have but his inner purpose and meaning? Materialists of the modern kind would, of course, disagree; but we all know what a putrid and decadent world they have always promoted, and continue to promote for the sake of justifying and indulging in their own mediocrity and weakness.

We could also say that in some cases, suicide really is the only way. Some people simply do not have the character or the disposition to live; sometimes this ‘fault’ is intrinsic to these individuals. Rather than spend a lifetime of misery imposed upon them; but it would rather be better to put an end to such a disgusting life. It only seems right to rather offer their own blood on the altar of judiciousness as an example of commitment to a higher ideal.

The music of Nekrorkist SS sets the perfect neutral tone to evoke a nihilist contemplation of itsemurha. It is a concretion of a melodic-frenetic punk-inspired black metal that vomits and blasts, but is at the same time guided by a clear thinking. There is a created destruction vortex that storms around a clear and very consonant melodious line that the guitar carries. The band takes time with each recording and rather than try to propose collections of songs, they seem to evolve of an already mature idea much in the same way as Infamous does.

From suicide, Nekrokrist SS extends the topic to a grander perspective; the suicide of a sick individual can be reflected at spiritual and collective levels. The encouragement to let churches burn because of their already decadent and thus useless form of dogmas that put forth the image of a distorted reality. Instead, and channeling the spirit of black metal as a whole, we find in Suicide a of the destruction of such an establishment through the proposition of finding joy through extermination at all levels: the harsh reset button of an amoral nihilist.

Burzum Dauði Baldrs

Burzum Dauði BaldrsA worthwhile commentary on this puzzling album would entail a discussion of the mystery of Baldr’s death, it is possible to appreciate this album purely on its musical numinosity. It would not be inaccurate to say that this is one of the most powerful, pure and clear statements by Burzum; second in that sense only to Filosofem. This qualification is not a reflection of the preference of the writer himself, who rather leans towards Det Som Engang Var, for its use of ritual and melodic metal to formulate a unique voice in black metal; it is simply the categorization of the art works based on their own qualities and a judgement as to their strength and return to purity. What this means exactly is left for the thoughtful reader to study and ponder.

Dauði Baldrs consists strictly of keyboard-produced melodies and synthetic effects such as timpani and cymbals. While extremely repetitive, it is not formulaic in the least; that is to say that each of the individual pieces follows a distinct plan that does not display traces of any structural template in particular. Consistency of style is preserved not only in the narrow selection of material sounds from the synthetic library of the keyboard, but in the way a minimal texture is handled.

The music very rarely expands beyond two voices, and it is often a kind of homophony with a melody of few notes over eight bars in period form (antecedent-consequent) that runs over a few root tones or chords. We also find something of a more monophonic (only one melody line) character with added root tone that only varies enough to provide a sense of movement but which for all intents and purposes does not leave the root for too long. Sometimes, two melodies occur at once, but this is reserved for highlight, transition and a kind of climax.

Dauði Baldrs should probably be considered a synthesis of the spirit of Burzum in its condensed and mature form. If one can bear with the repetition and take it as a meditation then the music works its magic. The character of the music is both melancholic with a tone of the mysterious more than the explicitly mystic, which is often not the point but a quality of Burzum’s music in general. It takes the supra-personal, transcendental, concern of Det Som Engang Var for an individual’s inner connection to an ancient past for which keys lie strewn around in nature, and thus also in correspondent places within himself, and filters it through the atmospheric pensiveness of the more settled treatment found in Filosofem.

The resulting work of art is further affected by the material shortcomings that afflicted Vikernes at the time of its writing and recording. This limitation did not stop the artist but rather worked to further purify the music into its clearest manifestation thus far. As it was clearest, it was also the most obscure in the eyes of a mundane audience for whom the mystery of transcendental music is invisible when it is most visible. There is something else for which the superior artist cannot be commended enough: the music speaks for itself and brings a universe into being; whatever other qualities it has and descriptions that, however accurate, are simply abstracted ways of communicating something about it, and are never a substitute for the clear emotional and spiritual essence found in it.

Infamous Shadows from the Past

infamous-shadows-from-the-past


I. Infamous


Infamous is a black metal band from Sardinia, an island in Italy that speaks a variation of Latin and which has its own particular history stretching back to the Nuragic civilization and into the distant past beyond the time of the dolmens. Its rich land speaks through the traces of human culture that lived in symbiosis with the land and the forest around it. To be more precise, the peoples that developed were affected directly by the magic of the environment while leaving their own stamp on it as a native blood that gives back to its soil and nurtures it. This is also what we hear in so raw a fashion being translated from the land, air and water of Sardinia into black metal for us by S.A., the man behind Infamous.

What we hear in the music of Infamous is a sad longing for the remnants of the Golden Age, and a virulent rejection of the dejection of modernity. These reflect the general posture of someone who knows there is something wrong with our times but still has to live in them, and is thus resolved to triumph in spite of it but promoting higher, and therefore more real, ideals. Comprehending such a point of view is not easy, for it is so very far removed from what the modern human being is used to perceiving. Only a de-programming and a return to a purity of vision that allows for reconstruction may open doors shut by neglect and hubris.

The black metal template adhered to by S.A., the mind behind Infamous, is close to a rock music simplicity, mainly using the guitars for cyclic, simple, consonant melodies. The nature of it all remains, however, on the metal camp, as these melodies are thickly enunciated phrase-themes at the very center of the arrangements. The drums themselves are a sometimes punkish, sometimes heavy metal affair that support the guitars as needed. A howling and screaming glaces the foggy storm of the instruments that brings ice and water crashing against stone, a nimble ghost haunting the grounds where streams of living power continually re-create.

sardinia-forests-secular-pines-rosemary-myrthle-strawberry


II. A Poetry of Shadows


The music of Infamous, as well as the titles which describe them, bespeak a deep sorrow that is nonetheless profoundly joyful as the grief of a healthy soul that turns into an almost infinite hope for what is to come. It is an inner light shining on and through the surrounding darkness of a putrid age. However paradoxical as it might seem to the reader, this movement upwards is generated by a black vortex of negative energy. Consumption, misery and hunger come together to awaken something in the superior individual. As this drives deeper into him who has this seed, the further toward the stars and beyond them he reaches as far as his arm will allow him.

The lower man escapes any glimpses he might catch of a consuming darkness by running back to the crowd, getting lost in its delusions that attempt to change reality with vain arguments, and in the inebriating vices which appear to come closer than ever to a Huxlean soma. The confrontation with the Shadow never occurs for most even at the most basic of levels, leaving them prey and slave to lower forces while remaining utterly bereft of a contact with the higher. All this in spite of the Aphrodistic delusions of the horrible era which promise illumination and liberation by proxy, an impossibility given that such gifts can only be attained through wilfull and sustained transmutation.

Perhaps it is in conveying these concepts that Infamous chooses its colors, its images and words, though we cannot venture to claim to know the mind of S.A. with unshakable certainty. The music also suggests this is the music of someone who through isolation seeks something larger than himself. Here, solitude is the result of the purposeful retirement of the hermit into a space where he may both search and create. It is the antidote to the benumbing social blanket that seeks to normalize and sacrifice quality for the sake of the illusion of safety. Thus, the hermit as an ascetic embraces life and nature as it is, lunging into darkness, beyond despair and fear.

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III. Dark Heroism


As a consequence of the realization of the present state of affairs, the man with a seed of the heroic in himself must decide whether to confront the world and carve out his own wyrd1. In confronting a decadent world, the inner must also be brought into alignment. Perhaps it could be said that it is of the utmost importance that in order to fully come to terms with the inner, the outer must be exposed as well, not only thought and meditation, but through effective and purposeful action. It is action and danger which permeate black metal as a whole, and which Infamous congeals to concrete auras and feelings under precise and descriptive titles. This dark heroism implies deeds outside the limits of society, self-knowledge beyond good and evil, and a willingness to reach one’s own limits in mind, soul and body.

To these ears, the collection of demos presented in Shadows from the Past is one of the strongest reflections of the murky and elusive ideals that dimly shine through the emotional music of Infamous. In saying this there is no intention of expressing an absolute preference or favoritism of the superficial sort. It is very usual that a band’s most transparent expression can be found in their rehearsals and demos, because they were not originally meant for anyone to hear; thus, there is an undilluted and honest simplicity and even straightforwardness with an open heart that is not usually replicated again when recording official studio releases. That said, one of the things that makes a project like Infamous stand out, for those intent on basking on black metal of an authentic kind, is that S.A. has developed a style and sound of his own which always sounds fresh and presents a different facet in what seems like an evolving yet consistent musical personality with a mature and well-defined core.

sardinia-nuragic


“…esalava forse l’oscura aspirazione a trascendere l’angustia della vita volgare e a raccogliere i doni dall’eterna Poesia sparsi su le pietre e su le acque.”
—Gabriele D’annunzio, Il Fuoco


1 Wyrd is Fate or Destiny, but not the “inexorable fate” of the ancient Greeks. “A happening, event, or occurrence”, found deeper in the Oxford English Dictionary listing is closer to the way our Anglo-Saxon and Norse forbears considered this term. In other words, Wyrd is not an end-point, but something continually happening around us at all times. One of the phrases used to describe this difficult term is “that which happens”., Wyrd: The Role of Fate on Octavia Randolph.

Side A – Torrid
1. Shadow I 06:55
2. Shadow II 06:03
3. Outro 00:53
4. In Our Blood (Rehearsal 2007) 03:10
5. Intolerance (Rehearsal 2007) 01:55
Side B – Misanthropy
6. Misery, Hunger and Chains 07:25
7. Black Vortex 04:10
8. Torrid Summer Misanthropy 05:34
9. Solitude… 07:50
43:55

Katharsis The Red Eye of Wrath

treowThe humble beginnings of what would later become an unhinged source of a pure torrent of black metal energy are see in The Red Eye of Wrath in their simplest form. Katharsis begins their story by constructing powerful songs that ride on simple power-chord phrases with mannerisms inspired in the style of Possessed, while stripping it down to essentials and propelling it to fully-formed black metal. In doing so, Katharsis adopts here an extreme taste for shocking passages without making the contrast of sections the main attraction, for they still remain related through perceivable, though perhaps murky, motif patterns. This style also relies on the dynamism of the drums to provide a great part of the content, allowing for the simple melodic riffs to stay for a longer time without need for modifications.

While possessing the endearing aura of the most primal and stripped down records of black metal, the initial expression of the budding Katharsis leans towards the doom-like ambient effect that black metal can sometimes rely on to carry a sense of cadence. These are alternated by frenetic charges of also extremely minimal and more often than not dissonant horizontal sequences. The use of pauses greatly enhances articulation power, allowing for the energy of riff to be either funneled, retained or simply make transitions more smooth. As whole, however, the realization of songs remains rather incomplete, given the scant nature of individual sections in terms of their melodic communication structures, so to call them.

The shortcomings of this first release are made up for in the debut album, while hidden potential continues to grow from this same model over several albums until a maximum expression is arrived at before rock conventionalisms start to take over more often than a raw black metal should allow to retain its otherworldly nature. The Red Eye of Wrath, while full of energy and working towards an honest and effective satanic eloquence, still appears under the strong influence of older bands, and not yet how to balance compositions as to fully utilize the power of expression latent in the style. In between the lines, however, we can grasp the veiled personality of Katharsis, that is never fully revealed even in later times, as befits an esoteric communication. That is to say, Katharsis’ face here, as always, remains somewhat elusive through its own technique.

If one is to recommend the highlights of this first album, the experienced listener should not fail to appreciate and enjoy the impulse towards expressive purity in the riff construction which strives at once for both a stripped-down, bare-bones nature and a destructive power in harmonic contrast of a sort. In this department, one should always include praise to the drums which do not fail to play more than a small part, thus beginning to build on a music that will later afford as almost as much importance to the drums s to the guitars. Where many other satanic black metal bands fail at the musical level to construct a proper and respectable music that alludes to and moves one to feelings of destruction and dissolution through works of sinister terror, Katharsis’ beginning in The Red Eye of Wrath builds the bases of the unique, and surely immortal, monument that their unfolding work has become despite its being relatively unknown as a work of 21st century underground musicians.

Nihil

init-setting-trees

No quiero derechos, ni preeminencias, ni placeres. Quiero un ideal adonde dirigir mis ojos turbios por la tristeza; un ideal en donde pueda descansar mi alma herida y fatigada por las impurezas de la vida. Lo tenéis? No… pues dejadme. Dejadme que mejor que contemplar vuestros lujos y vuestros esplendores quiero rumiar el pasto amargo de mis pensamientos y fijar la mirada en ese cielo negro, no tan negro como mis ideas…

— Pío Baroja, Vidas Sombrías, ‘Nihil’