Saturday, October 28, 2006

Spektr - Near Death Experience

A few posts ago, in a review of Xasthur's 'Subliminal Genocide', I called out for some "Striborg meets Stockhausen" music. Sometimes, such calls are answered: the sound of French Black Metal band Spektrs cd "Near Death Experience" roared back at my call, out of the dark abyss.

The French Black Metal scene is a very active one: bands Blut aus Nord, Haemoth, Deathspell Omega, Mütiilation and their ilk have spilled a blot of the blackest ink on the map of Europe, centered on Paris.

One of the salient features of many French Black metal bands is their comparatively intellectual orientation: where most black metal bands share metal's general anti-intellectualism, French black metal bands casually inject quotes of Georges Bataille into their interviews, and use obscure philosophical, occult and theological terms in their communications. Of course, the French have a reputation to keep up: 'Les Fleurs Du Mal', Baudelaire's towering floral hymn to Satan, still casts a shadow over these modern acolytes of the Dark One - not to speak of Baudelaire's progeny, from Lautreamont and Gérard de Nerval to Artaud and Bataille.

Another salient feature of French Black Metal is it's orthodox satanism. With regards to Satanism it is interesting to see that recently Satanist Black Metal has started to use the language of fundamentalism. For example, from the website of Swedish Black Metal band Ondskapt: "To worship him is to obey a holy will, immortal in its very fundaments. Ondskapt make no compromise when it comes to religiousness. Our music is completely dependant on the beliefs of the band. The music and lyrics exist solely through our faith and NEVER vice versa!". Many Black Metal bands have started to call themselves 'Orthodox', a term that generally refers to conservative dogmatism and is often used for those strains of Islam that are connected to fundamentalist violence. Of course, that one of the most heretic and apostatic musical genres has started to call itself 'orthodox' is deeply ironic. Without doubt, this fundamentalist language is used because since it has become transgressive to use it, as fundamentalist religion has become identified with terrorism, violence and evil; and Black Metal absorbs everything that is transgressive into it's culture. Thus, the consequences of Osama Bin Laden's actions have reached even as far as Black Metal; and it might be said that the western romantic nihilism that has influenced the Al-Qaeda ideology (see Buruma & Margalits 'Occidentalism') has come full circle. Perhaps, if more terrorist attacks occur in the coming years and the identification of fundamentalism and evil grows stronger, the language of satanic religious orthodoxy will eclipse the language of fascism in black metal.

Yesterday I bought French Black metal band Spektr's cd 'Near Death Experience', their second release.

It is not in itself the guitar playing or the vocals that make 'Near Death Experience' one of the most interesting recent albums in the Black metal genre: though somewhat slower, these resemble that of Haemoth on the Kontamination cd: cold, tinny, brittle yet fierce, harsh, trancelike (in fact, Haemoth is supposedly part of this band and in any case responsible for the vague but macabre black and white artwork of the Spektr cd cover).

And it is not in itself the fact that Spektr uses sampling and programming as part of their Black Metal palette, that make me call 'Near Death Experience' a powerful experience of transnormal anguish: ever since Burzum's 'Filosofem', electronica has been part and parcel of the genre's instrumentarium.

"What is it then? What is it? Tell us, Valter!"

It is the sound design, those weird droney waves of sub-bass sound that haunt my subwoofer, making it walk trough the living room as if possessed. It is the fact that Hth's 'rythm anomalies' incorporate technically proficient and sometimes even funky jazz drumming: such an unusual combination of black and blackened musics. It is fact that Spektr lets film noir (very noir) ambience collide with the harshest and most icy of black metal blizzards in an unique way. It is the way "clicks and cuts", digital glitches, are treated with reverb and echo, making them sound as if they are overgrown with sickening, whitish fluffy mildew. It is the ectoplasmic ambient drone of short wave radio static ... the samples of voices which seem to have been weathered by the ages ... Basinski-like rotting tape loops, the aural exquivalent of old Victorian ghost photographs ... dusty and dirty ... grainy ... blurred, faded ... scratched, torn ... a Sadean Stockhausen's 'Aus Den Sieben Tagen'... Need I go on? Must I?

It seems appropriate to end this post with a long samples of the first Chant de Maldoror:

"Alors les chiens, rendus furieux, brisent leurs chaînes, s'échappent des fermes lointaines ; ils courent dans la campagne, ça et là, en proie à la folie. Tout à coup ils s'arrêtent, regardent de tous côtés avec une inquiétude farouche, l'œil en feu ; et, de même que les éléphants avant de mourir, jettent dans le désert un dernier regard au ciel, élevant désespérément leur trompe, laissant leurs oreilles inertes, de même les chiens baissent leurs oreilles inertes, élèvent la tête, gonflent le cou terrible, et se mettent à aboyer, tour à tour soit comme un enfant qui crie de faim, soit comme un chat blessé au ventre au-dessus d'un toit, soit comme une femme qui va enfanter, soit comme un moribond atteint de la peste à l'hôpital, soit comme une jeune fille qui chante un air sublime, contre les étoiles au nord, contre les étoiles à l'est, contre les étoiles au sud, contre les étoiles à l'ouest ; contre la lune ; contre les montagnes semblables au loin à des roches géantes, gisantes dans l'obscurité ; contre l'air froid qu'ils aspirent à pleins poumons, qui rend l'intérieur de leur narine rouge, brûlant ; contre le silence de la nuit ; contre les chouettes dont le vol oblique leur rase le museau, emportant un rat ou une grenouille dans le bec, nourriture vivante, douce pour les petits ; contre les lièvres qui disparaissent en un clin-d'œil ; contre le voleur qui s'enfuit au galop de son cheval après avoir commis un crime ; contre les serpents remuant les bruyères, qui leur font trembler la peau, grincer les dents ; contre leurs propres aboiements qui leur font peur à eux-mêmes ; contre les crapauds qu'ils broient d'un coup sec de mâchoire (pourquoi se sont-ils éloignés du marais ?) ; contre les arbres dont les feuilles mollement bercées sont autant de mystères qu'ils ne comprennent pas, qu'ils veulent découvrir avec leurs yeux fixes, intelligents ; contre les araignées suspendues entre leurs longues pattes, qui grimpent sur les arbres pour se sauver ; contre les corbeaux qui n'ont pas trouvé de quoi manger pendant la journée, et qui s'en reviennent au gîte l'aile fatiguée ; contre les rochers du rivage ; contre les feux qui paraissent aux mâts des navires invisibles ; contre le bruit sourd des vagues ; contre les grands poissons, qui, nageant, montrent leur dos noir, puis s'enfoncent dans l'abîme ; et contre l'homme qui les rend esclaves".


Anonymous said...

this isn't Hth's project but rather the association between kl.K. and Haemoth's Hth that gives Spektr that touch and feeling - please note that those "rythm anomalies" you refered to are kl.K's ones .

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