Monday, April 09, 2007

Abruptum - Post Scriptum

On a somewhat overcast second Easter day, listening to Bach's "St. John's Passion" and "St. Matthew's Passion" and to Abruptum's "Evil Genius" (all works of agony and suffering), I wrote a post scriptum to yesterday's post on the latter album. If you haven't read yesterday's post yet, I advise you to read that first.

It is ironic that music (stubbornly, I keep using that word) which sounds so retarded should bear the title "Evil Genius" - there are light years between the dark and dank grotto which Abruptum would surely inhabit and the high-tech marvels of the lairs of evil geniuses like dr. Fu Manchu and Ernst Stavros Blofeld. Abruptum sounds like a caveman, not like Brainiac!
But perhaps the word 'Genius' should be understood in it's original meaning of 'tutelary spirit' - animistic deities from Roman mythology, spirits which guarded over individuals, regions, families, households and cities - in short, over social communities. And of what community is Abruptum's "Evil Genius" the tutelary spirit? Of the band Abruptum (in a anthropological sense, a band is without doubt a community)? Of the community of early nineties Scandinavian Black Metal musicians? Of the (imagined) community of Black Metal fans? We cannot know without interviewing Abruptum, we cannot know without anthropological fieldwork. But surely it is a wrathful spirit, one that will blight the community if it is not properly placated. It is an Evil Genius, after all.

As discussed in the previous post, Abruptum's soundtracks are a recursive audial image, creating a double mirror effect which is intended to act upon the listener. "And when you look for a long time into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you" (Nietzsche in 'Beyond Good And Evil'). To make the abyss look back into him, was exactly what IT desired his music to do.

Dark mirror
Abruptum's soundtracks functioned as a mirror, as a tool which served to enable IT to see introspectively deeper into his inner being, to reach further along the dark road to 'utter hell'. As such, the cd is a scrying device, a tool for divination, used to seek out signposts along the road which leads to his darkest recesses. The cd can be likened to John Dee's famous obsidian scrying mirror, which he used to call forth his spirits.
IT: "With Abruptum I have attempted to conjure up and beckon my wrathful demons, befriend them and compose them to an utterly natural element of myself".
In this sense, IT is one of those religious specialists known as diviners or shamans, a ritual technician of ecstasy, who uses his ecstatic audio material for sorcerous purposes, who uses the external power of magical rites and paraphernalia to consciously do evil.

As Roland Barthes points out in "Sade, Fourier, Loyola" modernity changed the hierarchy between sound and image, priviliging the latter over the former. 'Hearing is believing' became 'seeing is believing'. Before modernity, hearing came first; believing meant listening to the word of God: auditum verbi Dei, id est fides.
Abruptum's scrying method uses the ear, not the eye. Sound, not image, points the way towards the essence of evil. In this sense too, Abruptum is premodern.

Here is a link to an interesting article (Word-document) on Bataille and medieval mysticism, an article which provided some of the inspiration for the post.
Here is a link to an 1994 interview with IT.
Here is a YouTube link to a Dr. Who (!) video with Abruptum music from "Evil Genius".

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