Monday, July 30, 2007

Observations concerning patient V. - Part II

I. Introduction

Marcel Griaule (1898 – 1956) was a French anthropologist, who was closely affiliated with Bataille's brand of Surrealism. Indirectly, he influenced the world view of one of the most infamous Black Metal musicians, Kristian "Varg" Vikernes, the man behind Burzum.

An unlikely lineage? Read on...

II. Marcel Griaule and Surrealism

For students of Surrealism, Marcel Griaule is best known as the leader of the 1931-1933 Dakar-Djibouti expedition.

Amongst the participants in the mission was the prominent French surrealist and ethnographer Michel Leiris, one of Georges Bataille's closest friends. Michel Leiris's wrote his 1934 book "L'Afrique Fantôme" about his personal experiences during the expedition, describing it as a failed attempt to flee western civilization and the life in big cities.

André Schaeffner, a musicologist, also participated in the expedition and made field recordings of African musicians. In 1929 he wrote in 'Documents', the Surrealist review that inspired this blog: "No object of musical sound or sound production, however primitive, however formless it may seem, shall be excluded from classification ... it is only on the condition that nothing of a people's musical life shall be deemed unworthy of examination that we can consider a general study of instrument making and scoring throughout history and the five continents".

But Marcel Griaule himself also was close to 'Documents'. He succeeded Michel Leiris as the editorial assistant of the review, functioning as the right hand of Bataille, who was at the time the magazine's editor. In 'Documents', Griaule published several articles: on Abyssinian totemism in 1929, on the legend of the Queen of Sheba and on the gunshot in 1930. Griaule also contributed to 'Documents' infamous anti-dictionary, writing entries on the evil eye, on Abyssinian games, on the spittle (all in 1929), on the treshold, on pottery and on Ju-Ju (all in 1930).

III. Marcel Griaule and the Dogon

During the Dakar-Djibouti expedition, Griaule studied the culture of the Dogon, a West-African people living in Mali and northern Burkina-Faso. Following the expedition, Griaule would study Dogon culture extensively for more than 25 years, becoming famous for a study on the meaning of masks in the complex mythology of the Dogon. The star Sirius plays an important role in certain initiatory cults of the Dogon, and in a footnote to a 1950 publication Griaule wrote that aspects of the 'secret knowledge' of these initiatory cults seemed to tally somewhat to then-current Western astronomical knowledge on Sirius. After his death in 1956, Griaule's pupil Germaine Dieterlen continued his work with the Dogon. In 1965, she published "Le Renard Pâle: La Mythe Cosmogonique: La Création du Monde" in which even more extensive claims were made about the astronomical knowledge of the Dogon, such as the fact that they were aware of Saturn having rings.

Of course, it would be erroneous to suppose that the Dogon's initiatory secret knowledge was age-old. Mythologies are not static systems: that some peoples have no written history, does not mean their culture does not develop. On the contrary, mythologies are dynamic, transforming over time, incorporating new meanings and absorbing new knowledge. It seems likely that the Dogon had given Western astronomical information a place is their cosmological system. This information may have reached them through education by missionaries or other contacts with westerners. Research by Wouter E. A. van Beek, a professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, suggests that Griaule himself may have inadvertently supplied the astronomical knowledge to the Dogon. Van Beek was unable to replicate Griaule's findings during extensive field studies among the Dogon. In a 1991 article in Current Anthropology called "Dogon Restudies. A Field Evaluation of the Work of Marcel Griaule" Van Beek suggests that Griaule had expertise in astronomy, and that his questioning of his Dogon informant may have been leading.

Here is a subtitled excerpt from the documentary "Dogons: Chronique d'une passion" in which Jean Rouch and Germaine Dieterlen remenisce about the work with Griaule and the Dogon cosmological controversy.

IV. The Dogon and ancient astronauts

The next step in our line of descent from Griaule to Kristian Vikernes is Robert Temple. Robert Temple based an 'ancient astronaut theory' on Griaule's and Dieterlen's findings. Wikipedia: "Ancient astronaut theories center around the proposal that the Earth has at some point in the distant past been visited by intelligent extraterrestrial beings, and that furthermore such contact is linked to either the origins of, or their developmental influence on, human cultures, technologies, and religion". In his 1976 book "The Sirius Mystery" Robert Temple theorized that the Dogon's supposed extra-ordinary astronomical knowledge was brought to the Dogon by visitors from outer space.

Robert Temple's book was one of many books published in the 1970s which put forward ancient astronaut theories; the best known of these were the books of Erich von Däniken. These books were published in a period in the 1970s when fuzzy-headed thinking was very popular. Charles Berlitz's theories on the Bermuda Triangle sold 20 million copies, Fritjof Capra published the bestseller "The Tao of Physics" and gurus like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Sathya Sai Baba were gaining substantial popularity.

One may suppose that the idea that non-western societies were repositories of mysterious wisdom, fulfilled a vital function in the cultural life of the 1970s. The fascination with mysterious, non-western wisdom points towards the sacred, both the right-handed sacred (the accumulation of knowledge, asceticism, submission to spiritual authority figures) as well as the left-handed sacred (religious ecstasy as a 'high'; sacredness in opposition, if not rebellion to traditional sources of intellectual and spiritual authority: science and the Christian churches).

V. Viking fascist astronaut robots

As is detailed in Moynihan's and Søderlinds much-debated book "Lords of Chaos", Kristian "Varg" Vikernes, the man behind Burzum, has fashioned his very own ancient astronaut theory. Where Coil sing about "Egyptian Aztecs arriving from Norway", Vikernes dreams of fascist viking robots arriving in Norway - from Sirius. Vikernes puts forward the theory that Norse mythology finds it's origin in the arrival of extraterrestrial robots from Sirius which created the human race though genetic experimentation. Non-Aryan races, so Vikernes believes, are the result of failed experiments.

Like the fuzzy-headed theories from the 1970s, Vikernes's thought points towards the sacred, both of the righthanded variety (the accumulation of knowledge, asceticism, authoritarianism and - racist - taboos) and the lefthanded variety (rebellion, transgression, murder, madness).

And there we have our genealogical lineage: Vikernes's theories on astronauts from Sirius descend from those of Temple, which in turn descend from Griaule's ethnographic work. Of course, the parentage of Vikernes ideas is ironical. Griaule was an ethnographer who tirelessly worked to promote knowledge of the beauty of non-Western cultures - cultures deeply despised by Vikernes as non-Aryan. Griaule was active in Bataille's virulently anti-fascist circles, while Vikernes is an outspoken fascist. Griaule's thought fathered a strange, dangerous grandchild.

Post scriptum

Here is a documentary by Jean Rouche on the Dogon, shot during a 1950-1951 expedition with Griaule.

Here is a link to an interesting dissertation on exoticism, focusing amongst others on Leiris's "L'Afrique Fantôme".

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Observations concerning patient V.


From Nietzsche's "The Gay Science" (transl. by Walter Kaufman):

"369. Our side by side. - Don't we have to admit to ourselves, us artists, that there is an uncanny difference within us between our taste and our creative power? They stand oddly side by side, separately, and each grows in it's own way. I mean, they have altogether different degrees and tempi of old, young, mature, mellow and rotten. (...) Consider a continually creative person, a "mother" type in the grand sense, one who knows and hears nothing anymore except about the pregnancies and deliveries of his spirit, one who simply lacks the time to reflect on himself and to make comparisons, one who no longer has any desire to assert his taste and who simply forgets it, without caring in the least whether it still stands, or lies, or falls - such a person might eventually produce works that far excel his own judgment, so that he utters stupidities about them and himself - utters them and believes them. This seems to me to be almost the norm among fertile artists - nobody knows a child less well than it's parents do - and it is true even in the case, to take a tremendous example, of the whole world of Greek art and poetry: it never "knew" what is did".

When I recently was browsing in Nietzsche's "most personal of all his books" and read this passage, I was immediately reminded of Kristian Vikernes, better known under his nom de plume Varg ("Wolf") Vikernes, the Black Metal musician behind Burzum.

If there's one artist who utters utter stupidities about his works, it is Kristian Vikernes. If there is one artist in whom a gap - or rather, light years of cold interstellar space - can be discerned between his creative power and his judgment, it is Kristian Vikernes. I'm referring especially to his political and religious judgments and tastes - to call these 'stupidities' is euphemistic - they are moronic as well as repulsive.

Kristian Vikernes's music, on the other hand, is brilliant. The music makes possible a rupture with everyday utilitarian life through anguish, through a dramatization of existence which can leave one at the limit of tears. His creations far excel his own judgment.

And that makes those creations very different from a band like, for example, Ukrainian white supremacist Black Metal band Drudkh. When listening to Drudkh, their bombastic, testosterone-swollen political judgements grab me by the throat, forestalling any pleasure in their music. There is not the slightest gap between their art and their tastes, they are identical. In this sense I completely sympathise with mr. Impostume's troubles with listening to this band.

Other than with Drudkh, the gap between Kristian Vikernes tastes and his creative powers is so large, so evident, that the enjoyment of his creations is relatively unhindered by his asinine opinions. If one is on the location of his creations, his opinions are out of sight - and for me, out of mind.

So how did this huge gap between Kristian Vikernes's tastes and his creations come about? The explanation Nietzsche provides - the artist is too busy creating to develop his tastes - is insufficient in Kristian Vikernes's case. After all, he hasn't put out any new material since 1999's "Hliðskjálf" album, so he has had plenty of time to develop his taste and judgment into a more mature direction, time he has apparently (mis-)used for other purposes.

So is there a more apt explanation?

As I've pointed out in previous posts, one should be wary of taking anything mr. Vikernes says about his past or himself at face value. Nonetheless, on Kristian Vikernes's website (which I must force myself to read, it's so unsavoury) we can perhaps find some pointers towards an explanation. He writes about himself: "(...) Varg is the prisoner, writing articles, like this one, to stay sane, but also to not let the false accusations and biased lie-propaganda stand unopposed. He is real, but only for as long as the siege lasts. If the lies stop coming from the media-scum, and if the so-called judicial system stops its out-of-touch-with-reality processes, he will cease to exist and fade away into oblivion. He is real only because he has to be. He is simply the wall that protects the sanity, honour and life of the real Varg Vikernes. Like the fortresses of Europe this wall was not built for fun, but because of necessity". So perhaps Kristian Vikernes's taste and judgement has stopped developing because of the mental pressure of his imprisonment, and because mass-media attention has preserved his taste and judgement in aspic. His tastes and opinions are that of a teenager. If only he could show the slightest sign of spiritual growth!


In Torstein Grude's 1998 "Satan Rir Media" documentary, there is a scene which must have been recorderd when Kristian Vikernes flat was searched, after he was arrested for the murder of Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth. It is in the first part, when Finn Bjørn Tønder, a crime reporter for the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende, tells about his first encounter with Vikernes.

In the scene I noticed that there was a whole heap of "Ravenloft" adventure modules for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game lying on a bookcupboard. But not only that: Vikernes had also nailed some Ravenloft imagery to a wooden beam in the ceiling of his apartment, right next to an image of the Eye of Sauron. Wikipedia about the "Ravenloft" campaign setting:

"Ravenloft is a campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. It is an alternate time-space existence called a "pocket dimension" with the name "the Demiplane of Dread", which consists of a collection of land pieces called "domains" brought together by a mysterious force known only as "The Dark Powers". Each domain is mystically ruled by a being called a "darklord", which is a person or monster who has committed an act or acts of evil so foul as to attract special attention from the Dark Powers. The darklords are imprisoned within the borders of their domains and cannot escape by any means, although most can seal their domain borders with a thought. Within their domains, the darklords are forever tormented by the objects of their desire (often the objects they committed their crimes to achieve), which the Dark Powers dangle before them like the fruits of Tantalus. Each darklord's desires and motivations differ; some desire love, others hunger for glorious victory, or one might envy the defeat and humiliation of their enemies like another rival darklord".

Doesn't this description recall the situation of Kristian Vikernes? Hasn't he committed acts of evil so foul as to attract special attention and be imprisoned? Isn't he not only literally imprisoned, but also imprisoned within the borders of his psychological domain (the domain of Burzum, Varg, Count Grishnack?), which he cannot escape by any means? If so, what fruit from the garden of Tantalus would Vikernes be seeking?

Even though Vikernes had a lot of roleplaying books, it is hard to imagine his as an apt player of role-playing games. After all, role-playing games are social games, in which a fictional problem must be solved through interaction and collaboration. A typical role-playing game unifies its participants into a single team, known as a "party", that plays as a group. Thus, role-playing games call for skills which Vikernes lacks. His mother about her son in "Lords of Chaos": "He never liked organized play or organized sports. He was very good at playing on his own, with a very rich imagination, but as soon as he had to adjust to others in kindergarten it didn't work so well".

So perhaps thát is the Tantalus fruit Vikernes is reaching for: the ability to live his life in communication with others, instead of a life which is completely turned in on itself and thereby impoverished. Can his Odinist nostalgia and his fascist tendencies signify an longing for a Gemeinschaft in the sociological sense of the word?


I use Vikernes's Christian name instead of his wolfish nom de plume. Why? It is more than an attempt to irritate Vikernes the fascist: it is first of all an attempt to demythologize him, as well as to bring out the "Sméagol" personality in this "Gollum" character. Vikernes should be able to appreciate this - he is a big Lord Of The Rings fan, after all. Did you also notice how he - like Gollum - describes himself in the third person? He should have used the name "Count Gollum" instead of "Count Grishnack"!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Three From Front 242 - circa 1983

Front 242 - "Operating Tracks" - from the "Geography" album

Front 242 - " U Men" - from the "Geography" album

Front 242 - "Controversy Between" - from the "Endless Riddance" album

Three From Godflesh

Godflesh - "Christbait Rising"

Godflesh - "Mothra"

Godflesh - "Crush My Soul"

The last video is directed by none other than Andres Serrano, of "Piss Christ" notoriety.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

MZ. 412 - Burning The Temple Of God

"It is better to devastate a church than to close it down".

Marcel Proust, "La Mort des cathedrales" ~ Le Figaro, August 16th 1904


The magnum opus of Marcel Proust, "Á La Recherche Du Temps Perdu" begins with an image of a church - that of Combray. Proust wanted to construct his oeuvre like a cathedral; and this he intended to show by calling parts of it "Apse", "Window" and "Narthex". He thus likened the work of a writer to a architect, organizing the least parts of the text into an interdependent whole. Both Proust's text and the cathedral are the products of a synthetic spirit, binding together diverse domains of knowledge into a coherent edifice. Panofsky: "The classical cathedral, in its imagery, seeks to embody the totality of Christian knowledge, theological, natural, and historical, by putting everything in its place and by suppressing whatever no longer found a place". For Proust, the cathedrals of France were not only the most beautiful monuments of French art, but also the only works of art which still lived a life of completeness ("...leur vie intégrale...").

However, in 1904, French Socialist parliamentarian Aristide Briand drafted legislation concerning the strict separation of church and state, which was informed by strong anti-clerical sentiments. Briand's legislation declared all religious buildings property of the state and local governments. This threatened to close down many churches, turning them into casinos, banks, museums or conference centres.

This offended Proust's aesthetic ideals so strongly, that he preferred the destruction of the churches over their submission to strictly utilitarian ends. Rather than making the artistic heritage of religion into a tool for production, rather than subordinating churches to utility, churches should be devastated, sacrificed to nothingness, torched.


On June 6th 1992, Fantoft Stavkirke, a medieval wooden church near Bergen, Norway, was torched. It burned to the ground.

The church, of the type known as "stave churches", was built around 1150. Between 1100 and 1300 some 1,000 stave churches were built in Norway. Today only 28 remain. The stave churches were built as palisade constructions; thus, their architecture is based on that of fortifications. Their rich ornamentation mixes Christian design with Viking motifs, interweaving theological, natural, and historical imagery into a synthetic whole. The oldest stave church, which is very well preserved, is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List of most valuable cultural memorials in the world.

Why? Why was this stout and beautiful place of worship burned to the ground? Why did other churches follow? Why Holmenkollen Chapel, the church King Harald V and the royal family attended? Why Skjold Church in Vindafjord? Why Åsane Church in Bergen? Why many others?

We will never know. That it is well known who was responsible for the destruction of these cultural treasures - Count Grishnack, Samoth and other Norwegian teenage Black Metal adepts - does not help us any further. In literature, "the author is dead". The same goes for the arsonists: they are dead too. Not in the literal sense, of course. They are dead in the sense that we will never be able to reconstruct the meaning that the crime had for the perpetrators at the time it was committed. This meaning is hidden behind time's curtain.

The motives Varg Vikernes ('Count Grishnack'), acquitted but in all probability responsible for the arson of Fantoft Stavkirke, put forward, illustrate this point. In an interview with Michael Moynihan for the controversial book "Lords Of Chaos" he stated his (hypothetical) motive as follows, without admitting that he was guilty:

"I am not going to say that I burnt any churches. But let me put it this way: There was one person who started it. I was not found guilty of burning the Fantoft stave church, but anyways, that was what triggered the whole thing. That was the 6th of June and everyone linked it to Satanism. (...) What everyone overlooked was that on the 6th June, year 793, in Lindesfarne in Britain was the site of the first known Viking raid in history, with Vikings from Hordaland, which is my county." He also stated "They [the Christians] desecrated our graves, our burial mounds, so it's revenge". In another text: "For each devastated graveyard, one heathen grave is avenged, for each ten churches burnt to ashes, one heathen Hof is avenged, for each ten priests or Freemasons assassinated, one heathen is avenged".

Vikernes's statements do not hold up to scrutiny. It is not only that the Lindisfarne Viking raid did not occur on the 6th of June, but on the 8th. Furthermore, Fantoft Stavkirke had been moved from it's original location in 1883, so it did not anymore "occupy" the place on a heathen Hof. A more fundamental issue with the statements is that in June 1992, Vikernes had not yet "converted" to the Odinist fascism he is currently preaching. Only after being ostracized from the black metal community, Vikernes announced that he was no longer a Black Metal Satanist, but rather a Odinist fascist. In the statements on the Fantoft burning, he is inscribing a meaning into it that it could not have had at the time.

The burning churches are a text which “...consists of multiple writings, issuing from several cultures and entering into dialogue with each other, into parody, into contestation" (Barthes).

So what is there to do but to give meaning to the crime ourselves, as the audience of the fires? After all: "The unity of a text is not in its origin, it is in its destination” (Barthes again).

As a spectator of the fires, seeing them from the perspective of this blog's concerns, I'd like to turn to Georges Bataille's essay in "La Litterature Et Le Mal' on Jules Michelet's 'La Sorcière' to see if that essay can illuminate the path to that destination - the essay as torch light, as a madman's lantern in the bright morning hours.

In the essay, Bataille posits that the popular development of the Black Mass at the end of the Middle Ages may have corresponded to the decline of the Church. In those time, the intense sacrality of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was diminished as the Church only served the most conservative cares - like work and the maintenance of life. The Church became too mundane - not awe-inspiring, not frightening enough to be perceived as sacred. The popularity of Black Sabbath points towards an attempt to regain this lost intensity of the sacred. For Christianity, not only God was sacred. Satan too belonged to the world of the sacred, embodying the negative, left handed or transgressive elements of sacrality. More than being merely parasitic on Christianity, Satanism audaciously went "one step beyond", by sacrificing the sacrifice of Jesus. The Satanic sacrifice consists in establishing a means of communication between a Satanic sacred world and the profane world through the mediation of a victim, that is of a thing that in the course of the ceremony is destroyed. In this case, a concept - the sacrifice of Jesus - is destroyed, sacrificed by means of defilement.

So how was the situation in Norway in the early nineteen nineties?

Norway had a State religion; paragraph 2 of the Norwegian Constitution says that “the Lutheran-Evangelical faith is the religion of the state”. Nearly 83% of Norwegians are formally members of the State Church. The Church is closely intertwined with the political life of Norway. Prof. Stensvold: "Throughout the 20th century, the political parties in power have, without exception, used the state church as a political tool and used it as a reservoir and transmitter of a set of (Norwegian) ideals, values and worldview. So far, this has been a surprisingly fertile collaboration for both. Church leaders have willingly supported state legislation". The political life of Norway after the second world war was dominated by social democracy. The Norwegian Labour Party had been part of the Norwegian government almost continuously since 1927. Social democracy's biggest success was the creation of the welfare state, which provides comfort and material security for its citizens. Thus, welfare and religion were brought together by the Norwegian State.

So perhaps the Norwegian State Church became too committed to a life of comfort, impoverishing the sense of the sacred, making the sacred anaemic, unable to inspire enthusiasm, ecstasy. What Proust feared would be the result of Briand's legislation, happened in Norway: churches were submitted to strictly utilitarian ends, becoming a branch office of the welfare state, somewhat like a State bank, a museum, a government conference centre. The result? Norway is a society with one of the highest scores on the secularization scale, Norwegian normative Protestantism is in crisis, and priests have lost their former authority.

And like Bataille's medieval peasantry, the youth of Norway, which was disenchanted by the Church, turned to Satan to experience something awe-inspiring in celebrating the Eternal Exile's feast: the Black Mass. And like Marcel Proust, they preferred torched churches to churches whose " of completeness..." had drained away. In a sense, setting fire to the Fantoft Stavkirke, the Holmenkollen Chapel, the Skjold Church and the Åsane Church represented a defilement, a malefic sacrifice of the sacrificed God.


The burning of churches had a galvanizing impact on the early-nineties metal scene. The holocaust (in the original sense of the word) of these places of worship gave rise to enormous media attention - see the "Satan Rir Media" post - and conferred a charismatic aura on the Black Metal genre. Through the attention of the mass media, the genre exerted a tremendous fascination on Metal musicians, and many started to play in the style pioneered by Mayhem, Burzum, Satyricon and Emperor. Indirectly, the church burnings brought about a renewal and rejuvenation of Metal. And not only Metal was affected by the crimes of the Black Metal inner circle - the force of it's attraction extended to other musical genres as well, more specifically to electronic music genres. "Black Ambient" and "Black Industrial" came into being.

And this finally brings me to the intended subject of this post: MZ. 412's album "Burning The Temple Of God".

The Swede Henrik "Nordvargr" Björkk (often credited as Kremator - another fire reference) created Maschinenzimmer 412 in 1989. The band changed its name to MZ.412 with the 1995 release of "Burning The Temple Of God"; and it also changed it's image to one of black leather, long hair and corpse paint. Not only did the record's name refer to the church burnings, it's cover art featured a photograph of Fantoft Stavkirk in flames. The album is regarded as the very first "Black Industrial" album, organizing Industrial Noise, Ritual Ambient and Black Metal into a coherent whole. It was put out on the Cold Meat Industry record label, which specializes in Industrial Ambient from Scandinavia.

Putting the burning of a Christian temples center stage, focusing on strategies against ecclesiastical architecture, raises certain expectations about the music: one is led to expect radically destructured music, disjointed and charred compositions, fissures of orchestration, scorched arrangements, incongruities, interruptions, and breaks.

Nothing could be further from the truth: "Burning The Temple Of God" contains highly structured electronic music. Even if the sounds are harsh, abrasive, noisy, they are strictly sequenced. Sequencers were the software with which electronic music was made in the mid-nineteennineties; and a sequence is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the following of one thing after another; a set of things belonging next to each other in a particular order’; the Industrial, Black Metal and Ambient sounds are organized in relationship to each other according to a constant measure. The musical structures are decorated with samples from horror films, which present a panoply of Satanic occultism: the sounds of ritual magick, daemonic possession, exorcism and witchcraft trials.

MZ. 412's music on this album is architectural, even monumental in nature. It is not so much a cathedral in flames as an inverted cathedral, inverted as the Satanic cross; it is not so much a burnt Mass as a Black Mass. To paraphrase Coil's Jhonn Balance: it is a Black Temple for a Black Pope in Black Rome. Evil, majestic, intimidating.

So is MZ. 412's music a closed system? Is whatever no longer finds a place suppressed? No. A specific sample, placed at the beginning of the sixth track called "Submit And Obey", is an opening which provides some fresh air, an escape route from the Satanic edifice. In the sample, a young woman with an English accent and an incredulous, sarcastic tone speaks the following words:

"I told them we eat babies and drink piss. I told them we watch corpses being raped by dogs and shit on the host. I told them a goat with a prick of hot iron comes out of the trees and will all kiss its rump by the light of living children buried in excrement up to their necks with their heads on fire. And they believe it! Every word! They cross themselves with every new abomination and thank the Lord for bringing this poor monster into the light of His redemption".

Though scornful of Christianity, these sentences also point to the fact that the Satanic crimes of the Black Metal inner circle were the last word. "The mythical man is dead, leaving us his final message - a black laugh".


Burning churches is a thing of the past; a crime which now can only have a impoverished and nostalgic meaning. Georges Bataille in 'Literature And Evil': "I do not believe this type of provocation will ever lose its power of seduction, but the effect of seduction is subordinated to the interest of a purely external success, to preference for a deception which can be immediately appreciated. The servility of this type of quest for success is the same in the author and the reader. Each one, author and reader, avoids the pangs, the annihilation of sovereign communication. They both limit themselves to the prestige of success".

Post scriptum

The first to paragraphs of this post are heavily indebted to Denis Hollier's "Against Architecture. The Writings Of Georges Bataille" - a book with a burning cathedral on it's cover, the Cathedral of Reims in flames after being bombarded by the German armed forces on September 19th, 1914.

Interviews with Nordvargr can be found here and here and here.
An interview with MZ. 412 member Drakhon can be found here.

A beautiful post on churches, pilgrimages and apocalypse, can be found on the Ecclesiastical Proust Archive blog (link).

Apparently, the Fantoft church, which was torched by Varg Vikernes but rebuilt, has become a place of pilgrimage for Black Metal adepts, much to the dismay of the churchgoers (link).

An excellent interview from the Observer with Mayhem's Necro Butcher, penned by Chris Campion, provides much information about the Dream Time of Scandinavian Black Metal (link).

Another long piece on Norwegian Black Metal (link).

Here is a link to the Unholy Black Cult website, a web museum for Black Metal.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Satan Rir Media

Below you'll find Norwegian journalist Torstein Grude's 1998 documentary titled "Satan Rir Media" ("Satan Rides the Media"). The highly interesting documentary focuses on the media hype surrounding the criminal activities of the mid-nineties Norwegian Black Metal scene. The story of the murder of Euronymous strongly reminds me of Dostoyevski's book "Crime And Punishment": both tell the tale of a young man who is driven to murder by an arrogant Nietzschean ideology - Varg Vikernes as a Raskolnikov without regrets...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michelet - La Sorcière

"Figure to yourself, on a broad moor, and often near an old Celtic cromlech, at the edge of a wood, this twofold scene: on one side a well-lit moor and a great feast of the people; on the other towards yon wood, the choir of that church whose dome is heaven. What I call the choir is a hill commanding somewhat the surrounding country. Between these are the yellow flames of torch-fires, and some red braziers emitting a fantastic smoke. At the back of all is the Witch, dressing up her Satan, a great wooden devil, black and shaggy. By his horns, and the goat-skin near him, he might be Bacchus; but his manly attributes make him a Pan or Priapus. It is a darksome figure, seen differently by different eyes; some suggesting only terror, while others are touched by the proud melancholy wherein the Eternally Banished seems absorbed".

The previous text is taken from French historian Jules Michelet's 'La Sorcière' (literally 'The Sorceress'). It is a history of witchcraft, published in 1862.

In this book, Michelet painted a very sympathetic picture of witches. He portrays them as wise peasant women who sacrifice to pre-Christian gods, gods who had fallen into the state of spirits. Only because they are the victim of brutal feudal and ecclesiastical supression, these women turn to malefice. The witch's Sabbath, the Black Mass, is presented as a feast of liberty, as a festive revolt. But malificent the witch is: no benign wiccan, she is truly evil, dabbling in murderous poisons, dolls stuck over with needles, cursed potions, necromancy, incest, vampirism, sodomitic debauchery, madness-inducing drugs. This evil-doing backfires against the witches, igniting popular resentment which in turn sets flame to the pyres of the witch hunters.

'La Sorcière' is written in a very florid style; it's heady brew of academic history and literary texts foreshadows the "historiographic metafiction" of John Fowles's "The French Luitenant's Woman" by more than a hundred years.

'La Sorcière' caused a public scandal when it was first published and was seized from bookshops by the Napoleonic police. The book was published in Brussels by the publishers Lacroix et Verboeckhoven, who published many controversial French authors whose work could not be published in France. They published "Les Chants De Maldoror" in 1869, seven years after 'La Sorcière'. Lacroix and Verboeckhoven were the publishers whom Baudelaire tried in vain to attract during his ill-fated 1864-1867 stay in Brussels.

You can taste the unusual style of 'La Sorcière' for yourself, because here is a link to an 1863 English language edition, via Google Books. Here is a link to the original French-language edition, also via Google Books.

The florid style of the book ascertained that the book had very little influence in academia. However, outside the walls of universities, it's influence was all the greater. 'La Sorcière' was a major influence on Margaret Murray's 1921 book "The Witch-Cult in Western Europe" which proposed the theory that the festivities of witches were the survival of a pan-European, pre-Christian pagan religion that revolved around a 'Horned God'. Through this book, Michelet was indirectly responsible for the birth of Wicca.

Michelet's book was one of the influences on Danish director Benjamin Christensen's 1922 Expressionist documentary about the history of witchcraft, "Häxan" ("Witches"). Interestingly, like Michelet, Christensen employed a variety of styles in making "Häxan" - from slide-show illustrations to docu-drama. Häxan in turn influenced Surrealism. In "La Révolution Surréaliste" nr. 11 Louis Aragon and André Breton stated: “Those who saw the very fine film Witchcraft through the Ages will certainly feel much livelier instructed than from the books of Hippocrates and Plato…” (via Ombres Blanches).

In 1957 Georges Bataille published a short booklet called "La Litterature Et Le Mal" ("Literature And Evil"). The book can be characterized as a series of essays on writers who dealt with the theme of Evil in their literary work. The essays are loosely connected by Bataille's polemic against Sartre. One of the books essays is dedicated to 'La Sorcière', calling the author " of the men who have spoken most humanely about Evil" - here Bataille refers to Michelet's portrayal of the witch as a victim of supression. In writing the book, Michelet was "...guided by the ecstasy of Evil" - and certainly, Michelet's style gives the impression that witches made him lose his head.

In the essay, Bataille implicitly reworks Marcel Mauss's ethnological theory of sacrifice. The eminent French ethnologist Mauss defined sacrifice as a procedure which "...consists in establishing a means of communication between the sacred and the profane worlds through the mediation of a victim, that is of a thing that in the course of the ceremony is destroyed". To put it in more contemporary terms: the destruction of the physical boundaries of the victim brings about the destruction of the symbolical boundaries between the sacred and the profane. This destruction of boundaries spills over into the boundaries between individuals, who coalesce into a community ('communitas'). Bataille stresses the affective aspects of sacrifice: for him, the emotional intensity of moments of excess and horror of sacrifice fuses separate individuals into a community - in the case of the Black Mass, the community of witches.

Michelet: "Just as the crowd, grown dizzy together, was led, both by the attraction of the women and by a certain vague feeling of brotherhood, to imagine oneself as one body, the service was resumed at the Gloria. The altar, the host, became visible. These were represented by the woman herself. Prostrate, in a posture of extreme abasement, her long black silky tresses lost in the dust; she, this haughty Proserpine, offered up herself. On her back a demon officiated, saying the Credo, and making the offering".

The physical boundaries of the sacrificial victim are destroyed not by killing, but by eroticism. The intimacy between the sacred and the profane world, which sacrifice seeks to restore, is achieved through physical intimacy between the Witch and the officiating demon. However, where usually the sacrificial victim is replaced by an effigy, here the sacrifier, the officiating demon, is merely a false image. Satan is "...a great wooden devil...", a straw-man for the Witch herself. In the final analysis, the Witch sacrifices herself. She is a truly tragic figure.

Post scriptum

In 1973, 'La Sorcière' was made into an anime (Japanse animated cartoon) called 'Kanashimi no Beradona'. I haven't seen it, but it certainly looks interesting.

Here is a link to an interesting French-language article on "Le Corps De La Sorcière" (The Body Of The Sorceress").

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

So I too have been awarded the "Thinking Blogger Award" - by the excellent Esotika Erotica Psychotica blog.

I must admit I initially felt somewhat ambivalent about the award. Kindly put, the award is an internet meme ("a unit of cultural information that propagates from one mind to another as a theoretical unit of cultural evolution and diffusion") - but to put it less politely, it is a modernday equivalent of the chain letter.

The rules are as follows:

1. If, and only if, one gets tagged, one is obliged to write a post with links to five blogs that make one think,
2. One must link to the original post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. And one may display the 'Thinking Blogger Award'.

I'm not keen on chain letters. Some play on the avarice of their recipients, leading them to financial ruin through get-rich-quick pyramid schemes. Other exploit superstition, transforming life into a kind of supernatural promise or - even worse - menace for their recipients. Thus, chain letters can hold terrors that are all too real for those that receive them.

However, chain letters are highly interesting when 'read' in the light of ethnographic theory.

A chain letter is a letter which explicitly directs the recipient to make and distribute copies of itself. The letter is distributed along the lines of the social network of the recipients. Human relations are the lifeline of chain letters. Theoretically, if the xth generation recipients of a chain letter would be hermits, living in isolation without a social network, their only link to society being the one that gave them the letter, the chain letter would 'die'. Thus, chain letters underline the social nature of human life, forming an imagined community of chain letter recipients - a 'chain letter community'.

Chain letters are gifts. As Marcel Mauss demonstrated at the dawn of cultural anthropology, gift-giving is governed by very specific obligations: the obligation to give, the obligation to accept the gift, and the obligation to reciprocate. All three obligations can be discerned in the chain letter. The chain letter explicitly directs to give copies of the letter to new recipients. These new recipients cannot refuse to accept the letter without putting a strain on their relationship with the giver - by refusing to accept the latter they would expose the giver to financial or supernatural peril. Thus, there is an obligation to receive. Finally, there is an obligation to reciprocate. And here the system becomes really interesting: reciprocity is not achieved directly - by giving something back to the giver - but indirectly and in two different ways:
1) the 'favor' is returned by copying the letter and passing it on to new recipients;
2) the system itself will eventually reciprocate, showering money or supernatural blessings on the giver.

In pyramid scheme chain letters, it is the network that is supposed to reciprocate. The reciprocation is deferred for a number of generations of the letter, until such a moment when those who reciprocate are unknown to the giver. In a sense, the network becomes an autonomous actor.

In supernatural chain letters, which promise supernatural, magical or divine threats or blessings, the impersonal anonymous supernatural force which animates the system (in some cases, personified as saints, gods and spirits) reciprocates. Structurally, the supernatural force which reciprocates the giver of the chain letter, fulfills the very same function as the members of the network in pyramid scheme chain letters. Therefore, the religious representations of these supernatural powers can be said to be collective representations of the collective realities of the chain latter community. The blessings and curses are social things, products of collective thought. Therefore, it is not suprising that almost all supernatural chain letters since 1910 have either (1) declared they are to go "all over" or around the world, or (2) claimed a certain number of completed circumnavigations. The bigger the collectivity, the more powerful it is and the more forceful are their collective representations and the greater are it's blessings or curses.
And how do these products of collective thought themselves influence the collectivity, i.e. society?

The so-called "repetition taboo", which means that people should not distribute a chain letter to anyone whom they know has already received it, is essential to understanding how chain letters affect society. As we have seen, all chain letter systems are essentially pyramid schemes. These schemes are based on a non-sustainable business model in which there is no end benefit; the rewards simply travels up the chain, and only the originator (or at best a very few) wins out. The "repetition taboo" ultimately blocks the path of the ones at the bottom of the pyramid: those who subscribed to the plan, but were not able to recruit any followers themselves. Though they can never receive the benefits of the chain letter, they must pay either financially or - in the case of supernatural chain letters which contain curses for those who do not pass the latter on - bear the wrath of gods or spirits. Chain letters cheat. The chain letter is a gift given in bad faith.

And who is most likely to be on the bottom of the pyramid? At the bottom are those people who have a low count of the number of ties to other actors in the network, those who live in relative isolation, those who are not part of socially influential cliques; in other words, the downtrodden of society. Where Marcel Mauss described the system of the gift as a viable model for a post-capitalist society, one which would avoid the moral wrongs of a stricty utilitarian system, the chain letter as a political economy can only be unjust. Receiving a chain letter leaves a foul taste in the mouth.

Nonetheless, I have accepted the reward, I've put the award on display and will play by the rules. Why?
- That this meme is meritocratic in nature - it is an award, after all - makes it different from chain letters: there is no merit in receiving a chain letter. While both awards and chain letters are animated by the hope for and pursuit of the favors of destiny, I feel the award is uncorrupted by the cheating nature of chain letters. ;
- I feel that - other than with normal chain letters - the Esotika Erotica Psychotica blog gave the award in good faith. I have no bad taste in my mouth;
- I'm honored to be in the company of some of the blogs that have received the award before;
- I see it as a nice opportunity to shower compliments on blogs that I admire.

I'm tagging:
1. Giallo Fever, a blog about the giallo film and director Dario Argento in particular.
2. Poetix, in ur v01d, v10lating ur ax10ms.
3. Savage Minds, notes and queries about anthropology.
4. An Idiot's Guide To Dreaming.
5. The Impostume, Man is born free, yet is everywhere in chainstores.

Post scripta

Here is a link to a fascinating article on chain letters.

For supernatural chain letters, the energy expended in passing the letter on can be interpreted as a sacrifice to the supernatural forces of the chain letter.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Abruptum - Great Black Music

Abruptum's "Evil Genius" cd proves to be the album that is the most inspiring for this blog - this being the third post about this particular piece of musical filth. The cd collects several early demos of the avantish Black Metal group, and it is one of the most evil-smelling, debauched, unhealthy and deranged albums I own.

In this post, I'd like to find out whether I can make Abruptum's Black Metal keel over and spill it's dirty contents into Free Jazz.

So let us rock that jerry-built Black Metal raft to and fro, to see whether we can blemish Free Jazz's Icarean tendencies.

  • Abruptum is a cacaphony, excremental music, auditory faeces - and such a characterisation can easily stain Free Jazz, which has the reputation of being chaotic, dense and noisy. Splut!
  • Free Jazz is closely associated with the Black Power movement, which is in fact a movement which advocates Black Supremacy. Black Metal is closely associated with fascism, national socialism, White Power, White Supremacy. Abruptum's IT in an interview: "Thank you.. I would like to say that I hate you all and that we are the superior humans... Everybody else should kill themselves or we will do it for you. Soon the great 4th Reich will rise... You're probably stupid enough to buy our new album as well. Fuck You!". Which genre blemishes the other? It is hard to tell...
  • In a review on Maelstrom magazine, Abruptum is said to consist of "...TOTALLY random guitar, cat-paw attempts at keyboards....". Wouldn't it be more interesting to consider Abruptum's music as being largely improvised, thus collapsing into Free Jazz; and where Free Jazz is said to be "...without any fixed melodic or rhythmic structure...", doesn't Free Jazz involuntarily open itself to contamination with Abruptum's leaking aural incontinence?
  • According to Wikipedia, "Many free jazz musicians regard the music as signifying in a broadly religious way, or to have gnostic or mystical connotations, as an aide to meditation or self-reflection, as evidenced by Coltrane's Om album". Certainly, Abruptum's music served a mystical purpose for it's creator, the dwarf IT: "Some 17 years ago I was in an unfathomable hunt for certain parts, veiled within the foundation of myself, prying ever deeper to conjure up my personal anguish, hate, desire and gloomy, spiteful darkness, lurking profound within my corporal shell. (...) Recording this pursuit was a task I chose, not for the somewhat more ordinary causes of recording an album, but purely as a purpose to alter into and transmit this energy right back to myself, thus being able to mirror the matter, reaching even further along this dark road". Thus, Abruptum's music is an aide for self-reflection or meditation; even though the self-reflection or meditation plunges the author into evil, into the other side of the optimistic ecstatic side of the coin called "Free Jazz". The notion of Abruptum being spiritual and meditative, far from elevating Abruptum, actually lowers Free Jazz, rubbing it's nose into the stinking "tremendum" of it's "mysterium fascinans".
  • Robert Levin describes Free Jazz as "the veritable embodiment of what Herbert Marcuse called "the revolution of unrepression". Certainly, Abruptum's music is also about unrepression - but perverted or ritualized unrepression instead of revolutionary unrepression. Far from wanting to topple the repressive order by means of an Icarean revolution, Abruptum is Satanic: IT affirms the divine order, IT asserts and preserves the laws of God, but only in order to transgress them, to sully these laws with the filth of evil. Looking back on the generation of the nineteensixties and seventies, and seeing how that generation turned out in the eighties, nineties and naughties, isn't it likely that the unrepression was far from revolutionary, but in fact a perverted unrepression masking itself hypocritically as revolutionary? And doesn't the emerge of a rotten, dirty and impure unrepression in Abruptum stain Free Jazz?
Nearing the end of this post, let me state unequivocally that it has not been my intention to write up a synthesis, an emasculating fusion between Abruptum's Black Metal and Free Jazz. Far from me, to propose that "...Abruptum is really some kind of Free Jazz"; let alone that "Free Jazz is Abruptum avant la lettre". I have merely wanted to derive some pleasure from splattering some filth on Free Jazz, from blaspheming a little against that sacred genre; to paraphrase Bataille, "to introduce into Free Jazz the greatest number of elements which contradict it, but at the same time harm it as little as possible" - a procedure which can only affirm my love for Free Jazz, which can only make Free Jazz shine ever more luminous...

Post Scripta

  • Free Jazz's Icarean tendencies: "Silva saw broad extra-musical ramifications in his procedures. He believed that by rejecting all externally imposed constraints the inherent goodness in men would surface and enable them to function in absolute harmony with both nature and each other. "Man," he said to me once, coming off an especially vigorous set. "In another ten years we won't even need traffic lights we're gonna be so spiritually tuned to one another"."
  • Here are the first and second post on "Evil Genius". Reading them again, I feel I have stated some things a little bit too elliptically, or too cryptical if you will. Nonetheless, to examine music as a means for symbolic exchange (that is: as a project to step outside the world of projects) still seems valid...
  • Of course, in sheer length my august 2006 post on Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" still wins hand down and the idea of spinning a spider's web between the worlds of Marcel Proust and Norwegian teenage dégenerés has it's charm; but "Evil Genius" is a better cd to chew on at length...
  • So you think that comparing Black Metal to the Great Black Music that is Free Jazz is daft? Not more daft than describing Free Jazz as the godfather of Punk!
  • Aren't onomatopeia words which point towards the end of logos? If so, 'meow' can be put on one line with that most poetic of words: 'silence'.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday The Thirteenth: Mask

"One of the principal ethnographic mysteries is conceded to lie in the general use of masks in primitive society. An extreme and even religious importance is attached everywhere to these instruments for metamorphosis. They emerge in festivals - an interregnum of vertigo, effervescence, and fluidity in which everything that symbolizes order in the universe is temporarily abolished so that it can later re-emerge. Masks, always fabricated secretly and destroyed or hidden after use, transform the officiants into gods, spirits, animal ancestors, and all types of terrifying and creative supernatural powers. (...) The eruption of phantoms and strange powers terrifies and captivates the individual. He temporarily reincarnates, mimics, and identifies with these frightening powers and soon, maddened and delerious, really believes that he is the god as which he disguised himself, cleverly or crudely, in the beginning. The situation has now become reversed. It is he who now inspires fear through his possessing this terrible and inhuman power". Roger Caillois, "Man, Play And Games".

"Everything behind the mask is mysterious. When the mask is taken seriously, as in the cases we are discussing here, no-one must know what lies behind it. A mask expresses much, but hides even more. Above all it separates. Charged with a menace which must not be precisely known - one element of which, indeed, is the fact that it cannot be known - it comes close to the spectator, but, in spite of this proximity, remains clearly separated from him. It threatens him with the secret dammed up behind it. Unlike a face, there are no passing changes in which it can be interpreted, and so he suspects and fears the unknown that it conceals.
The true mask is something, which never changes, but remains permanently and unmistakably itself, a constant in the continual flux of metamorphosis. The mask is perfect because is stands alone, leaving everything behind it in shadow; the more distinct it is, the darker everything else. No-one knows what may not burst forth from behind the mask. The tension between its appearance and the secret it hides can become extreme. This is the real reason for the terror the mask inspires".
Elias Canetti, "Crowds And Power".

So what to make of "Friday the 13th"'s mask, which first appears at summer camp, a festive interregnum when parental order is temporarily abolished for teenagers? What to make of the mask, which stays the same, constant, whether it is at Camp Lake Crystal or in outer space? What to make of that utterly impersonal, expressionless ice-hockey mask? It's whiteness is a blank - not so much signifying nothing as signifying absence; absence of a human face; absence of a human head; absence of human speech; absence of human thought. Jason Voorhees is headless, the acephalous monster, the minotaur in Camp Lake Crystal's labyrinth.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friday The Thirteenth Blog-A-Thon

This blog will be in communion with Jason Voorhees come Friday...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Five Times Weill

Burroughs performing "What Keeps Mankind Alive?"

Louis Armstrong performing "Mack The Knife"

The Young Gods performing "September Song"

Lotte Lenya performing "Seerauber Jenny"

Mina Mazzini performing "Surabaya Johnny"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wold - Screech Owl

The poet and novelist Robert Graves, like Georges Bataille, was an amateur armchair anthropologist whose work strove to be "applied anthropology". Both were deeply influenced by Sir James Frazer's anthropological classic text "The Golden Bough" - though Bataille was much better informed about then-current anthropological theory than Graves.

Graves' 1948 book 'The White Goddess. A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth' unfolded the theory of the "mythopoetic". Graves proposed that all true poetry is an invocation of the White Goddess. The White Goddess, so he speculated, was a female deity whose worship dominated Europe and the Mediterranean in the Stone Age. Thus, for Graves all poetry is mythological in nature: "The function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse; its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites". Graves described his paleolithic divine Muse as a Triple Goddess, having the aspects of a young girl, a nubile woman, and a crone. The three aspects are closely linked to the seasonal cycles of nature. Graves' theory, which can be described as ecocentric and eurocentric, has been quite influential, making an important contribution to the neopagan and wiccan spiritualities. Coil - a band with a neopagan outlook, after all - has been influenced by Graves' thinking.

And so has Saskatchewan Black Metal band Wold, whose 2006 album "Screech Owl" is reviewed in this post. On the album's sleeve, it is stated that it was recorded in "the mythopoetic lodge", and the album's lyrics seem to refer to the White Goddess in her aspect of the crone. The crone - or: the hag - is the aspect of the Goddess that is concerned with death, the underworld, winter, the waning moon. For Wold, the Screech Owl apparently is a symbol for the Crone Goddess. The lyrics for the fourth track (I wouldn't want to use the word 'song') are illustrative:

"Bitch, Badb,
Witch, old crone:
They call you the field hag,
Yours is the weed and the sage.

Barren one, yet you contain fertile depths,
Dry one, yet you are lush deep within,
They call you the field hag.
It is you who makes the pastures green.

Field hag I shall provide thou offering,
In obiesance I await your conjuring,
Tie her down when the moon is nice and round
Smoke her with smoke under moon and ember.

Old crone holds me down
Speaks of things profound:
"She must be immersed down in coulee,
When all is done bury her in prairy thrall".

The moon is full under autumn chill,
Capture the village maiden,
Perform the ritual of the Field Hag,
Rigid and cold as impending winter.

Hag's cruel grasp of ice:
Molestation by the cold night,
Break the earth with spade and wonder
There I bury her, in the coulee.

Village maiden rests in the coulee,
An offering to the field hag,
The old crone is wise and kind,
I give gifts to wise field hag.

When the snow queen departs,
The coulee begins its thaw,
The field hag unearths the village maiden
And uses her remains for magic".

Nonetheless, the usual signifiers for ecocentrism and neopagan inspiration in Black Metal music - melodic folk, acoustic guitars and frilly blouses like those worn by Ulver on Bergtatt's album artwork - are completely absent. In fact, Wold's sound world is as far from folk and Nature Goddesses as one can get: the music is a very harsh, dense and industrialized take on Black Metal, sounding like Gorgoroth or Darkthrone channeled by the clairaudient medium of Boyd Rice's Non or that of Whitehouse: not unnatural but anti-natural.

If there is a moon in Wold's sky, it is the violent electrical moon of the Italian Futurists; if Wold's forest floor is covered by snow, it is artificial snow, made from carbide dioxide; if fog hangs over Wold's prairy, it is noxious, made by polluting smoke machines, smelling of gasoline; if grass covers the prairy, it is made from needles; if there is wildlife, it is wildlife as built by Survival Research Laboratories, plate-armoured, steel-jawed, red-eyed, spitting out napalm, with mechanical manipulator arms brandishing various attachments such as claws and stabbing knives.

Thus, 'Screech Owl' in an unholy matrimony (inhierosgamos?) of White Goddess Paganism and Futurism.

Though it is interesting to see such hybrid monstrosities come into being, Wold did not entirely convince me on the musical level. I found Wold's noise a little bit too dense, the rhythms a little bit too monotonously harsh, the album as a whole too linear, too straight-ahead, not Free enough. Taken in small doses, the music is OK; but listening to the entire album wears me out before the end.

Post Scripta

Here is an interview with Wold's Crookedjaw (vocalist and "devices"), Opex (guitars and "drums"), and Obey ("scourge") at Pitchfork.
Here is a review of Wold's Screech Owl at Stylus magazine, by Stewart Voegtlin.
Here is a review of Wold's Screech Owl at Decibel Magazine.
Here is a post on Wold at "WFMU's Beware Of The Blog".
A post on Wold on S. Kobak's "Apples And Heroin" blog.