Saturday, November 24, 2007

Silvester Anfang - Kosmies Slachtafval

The notorious Malleus Maleficarum was a something of a handbook for witch hunters, written by inquisitors Sprenger and Institoris. The book, which you can find in it's entirety here, consists of three parts: the first examines theological issues raised by the existence of witchcraft, the second examines the the erotic and magical practices of witches as well as the possession of witches by Devils, and the third and final part describes the proper practical and legal methods for the detection and repression of witchcraft. Though the style of the book is academic (combining legal and theological discourse) the content speaks of an macabre obsession with female eroticism. Page upon page details the copulation of witches with incubi and succubi, copulation which takes place in a rural background: fields, forest, villages. The book is the product of , misogynous urbanoid mass hysteria, of the fear of city-dwellers of the country-dwelling female ‘other’.

Belgian band Silvester Anfang's album "Kosmies Slachtafval" proudly manifests the most terrible fears of these witch hunters. Just take a look at the art work: a black-haired, barely dressed, sickly-looking girl licking a human skull, the Flemish flag in the background - a proud-looking goat with large curled horns in a hilly rural area - a conservatively-dressed young women gazing lovingly on a baby goat - a drawing of a witches' sabbath, three sorcerous hags huddled around a boiling kettle and a fourth riding a goat through the skies ... And the song titles can only confirm the inquisitor's fears: "Mijn vader was een wolf en mijn moeder was een hoer" ("My father was a wolf and my mother was a whore") and "Konfituur voor de satansjeugd" ("Marmelade for the Satanic youth").

Silvester Anfang's "Kosmies Slachtafval" is yet another excellent release from the dependable Aurora Borealis.

The name of the band, "Silvester Anfang", is related to one of the more unlikely episodes in Black Metal history. "Silvester Anfang" is the title of the percussion intro on Mayhem's 1987 mini-album "Deathcrush". The intro is played - of all people - by Tangerine Dream and Kluster member Conrad Schnitzler. It was recorded at the request of Mayhem's front man Øystein Aarseth (perhaps better known under his nom de plume Euronymous). Aarseth was a fan of German electronic music; but Schnitzler had no idea what kind of music Euronymous made. Here is Conrad Schnitzler's account of this strange intersection of very different music styles (link). Mayhem still use the clattering percussion track to open their concerts (link).

The name of the band can be regarded as emblematic for the band's artistic program: a witch's broth of blackened Krautrock with bleak and unnerving ambient synthesizer. But there's even more to Silvester Anfang than that: the music comes across as a Black Metal take on free-form drone-folkies Pelt, as if Pelt had been raised on a steady diet of Burzum, Mayhem, Immortal and Gorgoroth instead of on John Fahey and Americana. It comes as no surprise that Silvester Anfang and Pelt mainman Jack Rose have put out a split 7" on Aim records. "Kosmies Slachtafval" ("Cosmic Offal") is dark and droning, with fingerpicked guitar work and moody, murky drones, the crepescular synths taking the role played by ragas in Pelt's music. Silvester Anfang call their own music "Funeral Folk" - an amalgam of "Funeral Doom" and "Free Folk"?

All in all, I highly recommend "Kosmies Slachtafval". Here are two YouTube videos of Silvester Anfang at play.

1 comment:

The Great Baarsini said...

Ik doe dit even in het Engels...

Silvester Anfang's image troubles me a little because I see an ambiguity. Not because I think they are too dark or the image is wrong but I do feel SA's music does not always corroborate their black(metal)image (and the other way around).

Eventhough their music is on the darker side of improv/psych folk I tend to giggle at their evil image and I feel there is quite a gap between the music and the image they bring across. The troubling rural connotations of music are to my ears more apparent than the satanic aspects of the image. Especially when you see them live nothing of the image remains apart from the Flemmish flag in the background. The first time I heard them I saw more connections with Calvaire then with Satan and therefore their music to my mind could easily have been one of your "Three from Belgium..." posts.

And they sparked my goat vs sheep albumcover silliness ;)