Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Furze - Necromanzee Cogent


Where to begin when describing Furze and that band's album "Necromanzee Cogent"?

With Furze's music or with Furze's texts, such as his lyrics, which combine glossolalia and psychotic poetry, and his confusing interviews (here and here and here)?

And how to describe Furze's work?

With an exposé on Furze as 'outsider art', as music and texts and artwork which seem to be the product of an insane asylum inmate (the sing-song mumbling with which the album Necromanzee Cogent opens, instantly casts doubt on the artist's sanity)? Or with a sober analysis of his musical and literary strategems, downplaying Furze's oddness on the level of content in favor of the formal aspects? Or on his technical abilities as a musician, on determining whether his apparently clumsy playing isn't in fact the product of brilliant skillfulness (Furze describes it as 'complex primitivism'), on his "Satriani factor"?

No. I will begin with laughter.

From giggling to to full blown evil laughing (mwahaha, muhuhahaha), laughter has a prominent place in the music on Furze's album Necromanzee Cogent. The quasi-hysterical sped-up voices, the snippets of radio, the atonal organ melodies worthy of José Mojica Marins' extremely strange, surreally sadistic yet humorous horror films, and the slightly offbeat to outlandishly bizarre vocals shed a strangely comical psychotronic light over the Black and Doom Metal proceedings. The photograph of two children in a trick-or-treat Halloween costumes on the back of the Necromanzee Cogent album points towards a spooky but joyous playfulness, not towards the rather dour 'grimness' so often associated with Black Metal bands. The nom de plume of the artist behind Furze, "Woe J. Reaper" doesn't appear to be too serious either.

In as sense, Furze can be said to encompass the dichotomous types of the grotesque Bakhtin describes in "Rabelais And His World": both the Renaissance, Rabelaisian grotesque and Romantic grotesque.

The latter is described by Bakhtin as cold, ironic, sarcastic. "Laughter combined with bitterness which takes the (Romantic) grotesque form acquires traits of mockery and cynicism, and finally becomes satanic". The Romantic grotesque is "...something hostile, alien and inhuman...". Certainly, there is a evil, cold, gloomy, satanic aspect to the Furze grotesque. This is Black Metal, after all.

But there is also something of the Renaissance grotesque in the Furze esthetic. The Renaissance grotesque is playful, festive, carnivalesque, life-affirming, a funny monstrosity. Woe J. Reaper appears to be some kind of Ghoulardi figure, both frightening and irreverently humourous. "All that was frightning in ordinary life is turned into amusing or ridiculous monstrosities", dixit Wolfgang Kayser, quoted with approval by Bakhtin. Bakhtin himself: "In the grotesque world the id is uncrowned and tranformed into a 'funny monster' ". Now that is certainly true of Furze! It is exactly this aspect of the Rabelaisian grotesque which is represented by the photograph of the trick-or-treating children on Necromanzee Cogent's album. And the narrow-mindedness and stupid seriousness which is for Bakhtin the hallmark of the Romantic grotesque seems to be far off when one listens to Furze.

Thus, the madcap Furze marries both forms of grotesque; and Necromanzee Cogent is a Black Metal album that is not only highly recommended for it's very inventive Black Metal music, but that is also an interesting footnote in the history of 21st century laughter.

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