Friday, February 27, 2009

Shock Xpress - Mariangela Giordano (pt. 4)

This is the fourth and final post in a short series of posts honoring Italian exploitation star Mariangela Giordano. She was interviewed in the second Shock Xpress book by film critics Alan Jones and Mark Ashworth.

Patrick Vive Ancora
(Mario Landi, 1980)

Le Notti Del Terrore (Andrea Bianchi, 1981)

La Setta
(Michele Soavi, 1991)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Michaux at Galerie Di Meo


Some day.
Some day, perhaps soon.
Some day I'll tear out the anchor that keeps my ship far from the seas.

With the kind of courage needed to be nothing and nothing but nothing, I shall let go of that which seemed indissolubly close to me.
I'll slice it off, I'll knock it down, I'll break it up, I'll send it reeling.
Disgorging at a go my wretched pudency, my wretched combinations and gradual concatenations. Drained of the abscess of being someone, I shall drink again the life-giving space.

By making a fool of myself, by abasements (What is abasement?), through shattering, through emptiness, through a total dissipation-derision-purgation, I shall cast out that form of me which was thought to be so well-attached, well-composed, well-coordinated, of the same stamp as the company I keep and as my fellow-men, my oh so worthy fellow men.

Humbled as though by a catastrophe, levelled off perfectly as if by an immense funk.
Reduced immeasurably to my true rank, to the lowly rank that I know not what idea-ambition made me desert.
Annihilated as to height, as to esteem.
Lost in a remote spot (or not even), without name, without identity.

CLOWN, submitting to the assault of laughter, jeers and guffaws the notion that against all evidence I had formed of my importance.
I shall plunge.
Without purse into the infinite space at the back of the one mind open to all, open myself to a new and incredible dew by dint of being null
and blank...
and laughable...

Henri Michaux (1939)

I'm back from Paris, arriving home Sunday evening. Sadly, I haven't been able to visit the Maldoror exhibition at Galerie Furstenberg (interestingly, someone desubscribed as a 'follower' after posting the - admittedly disgusting - quote from Les Chants de Maldoror).

This was amply compensated by being able to visit an exhibition of Henri Michaux's work from the 1980s at Galerie Di Meola. The exhibition consisted of a dozen of Michaux's work on paper, mainly watercolours and indian ink paintings. The exhibition is on until March 28th 2009. Here is a link to a Google books edition of Michaux's Selected Writings.

I had a nice time in Paris: I've walked throught the city until my feet hurt, have eaten very well and saw lots of beautiful art. In a Paris art bookshop, I finally bought a beautiful book of Pierre Verger's photography called 'Schwarze Götter im Exil', the catalogue to the eponymous 2004-2006 exhibition in various cities in Germany. At the Joseph Gibert cd shop, feeling like a kid in a candystore, I bought Deathspell Omega's recent album Chaining The Katechon. I was helped by a very nice cassiere who was a big fan of this excellent French Black Metal band. I'm sad to say that a cd shop with such knowledgeable personel and immense range of cd's doesn't exist in my country anymore.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Once Upon A Time in Norway

Below you'll find 'Once Upon A Time in Norway', a 2007 documentary on the 'Inner Circle' of Norwegian Black Metal. It features many interesting interviews with the protagonists of the drama that unfolded in Black Metal's Dream Time. The musicians, now in their mid-thirties, are older, sadder and wiser and distance themselves from the crimes that were committed in the name of Black Metal. The interviews provide extremely valuable insight into the social and psychological processes which drove the Black Metal conspirators to these crimes. The documentary was also brought out on dvd.

Here's a link to an interesting overview of US Black Metal, 'A Blaze in the North American Sky'.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maldoror at Galerie Furstenberg

From 'Les Chants de Maldoror', by the Comte de Lautréamont:

"One should let one's nails grow for a fortnight. Oh! How sweet it is to brutally snatch from his bed a child with no hair yet on his upper lip, and, with eyes wide open, to pretend to suavely stroke his forehead, brushing back his beautiful locks! Then, suddenly, at the moment when he least expects it, to sink one's long nails into his tender breast, being careful, though, not to kill him; for if he died, there would be no later viewing of his misery. Then, one drinks the blood, licking the wounds; and, during the entire procedure, which ought to last no shorter than an aeon, the boy cries. Nothing could be better than his blood, warm and just freshly squeezed out as I have described, if it weren't for his tears, bitter as salt. Mortal one, haven't you ever tasted your blood, when by chance you cut your finger? Tasty, isn't it? For it has no taste. Besides, can you not recall one day, absorbed in your dismal thoughts, having lifted your deeply cupped palm to your sickly face, drenched by the downpour from your eyes; the said hand then making its fatal way to your mouth, which, from this vessel chattering like the teeth of the schoolboy who glances sidelong at the one born to oppress him, sucked the tears in long draughts? Tasty, aren't they? For they taste of vinegar. A taste reminiscent of the tears of your true love, except a child's tears are so much more pleasing to the palate." (Text lifted from here)

When you are reading this I hope to be in Paris visiting an exhibition at Galerie Furstenberg, to see illustrations by Salvador Dali of Lautréamont's infamous Les Chants de Maldoror.

From the Galerie's website: "In 1934, on Picasso's recommendation, the Swiss publisher Albert SKIRA commissioned Dali to illustrate the "Maldoror Songs", the famous text by Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse). Dali engraved 42 coppers in the spirit of all the surrelist themes of his major paintings during this period. The edition size was initially planned to reach 200 but because of SKIRA's financial difficulties, only about 60 books were printed. The copper plates were confiscated and kept in private hands.

In 1970, a three-party contract was signed between DALI, SKIRA and ARGILLET for the final publication of this major graphic series. For this, DALI engraved 8 new coppers and signed all of the 50 etchings that now compose "The definitive edition of the Maldoror Songs". This Edition was printed in two forms: 100 books containing the text and the 50 subjects (signed and numbered), and 100 series of the etchings alone.

The Galerie Furstenberg is proud to be the distributor of this famous and rare publication to top museums and private collectors."

Thursday, February 19, 2009


What would the work of Jean Rollin have sound like, if he had had not been a cinematographer but a Black Metal fan?

Perhaps something like the shadowy French band Moëvöt.

In the sixties and seventies, French filmmaker Jean Rollin directed a series of obscure and odd art-horror films. Most of Rollin's films are charmingly amateurish, largely improvised, poetic vampire films. His aesthetic predilections ran counter to the Nouvelle Vague movement that dominated the French arthouse cinema of the era, as he was always more attracted to 'outmoded' traditional French cinema. The films are a strange amalgam of on the one hand an anachronistic form of Black Romanticism and and on the other hand exploitation cinema: his films feature declamatory speeches, 'theatrical' acting and 'poetic' tropes, as well as (sometimes crude) sex and violence. Jean Rollin's films are not successful as horror films (they are never truly frightening), but they succeed as filmic explorations of a Surreal, almost mythological and very personal iconography.

From the chapter on Rollin in Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs 1994 book Immoral Tales. Sex and Horror Cinema in Europe 1956-1984:

"In the guise of a 'horror' film a series of unconnected images was being shown: women drinking from a huge jar of blood, a game of skittles played by a blind woman, a vampire queen emerging from the sea, a marriage of vampires taking place in the old Grand Guignol theatre, two lover being sealed inside a coffin... and so on, up to the final image of the hero, cradling his lover's body in his arms in the deserted Place de la Bastille, and reciting from ancient pulp author Gaston Leroux. To cap it all, the film was laced with splashes of nudity, ridiculous dialogue that seemed to be made up as the actors spoke, and had a cast who were killed off at the end of the first half hour and then came back to life for the final fifty-minute play-out. (...)

[Rollin's] films are based around images and sequences of images, not around the logical, point-by-point exposition of a screenplay. The genesis of many of is films is a particular place that catches his attention or a specific image. Other images then follow, and often the screenplay is an exercise in linking the pictures that come almost ready formed to his mind. (...) His ideal is to find images that are strong enough in themselves to need no final explanation. To him, the need to explain takes away the power of the images."

Moëvöt is the work of a French musician known only under the pseudonym Vordb Dréagvor Uèzréèvb. Very little is known about Vordb. Possibly his name was Stéphane Z, possibly he hailed from the (rather provincial) town of Bergerac in the Dordogne. What seems certain is that Vordb was one of the leading figures of a collective of Black Metal bands called 'Les Légions Noires' ('The Black Legions'). Moëvöt is likely to have been only one of Vordb's many projects, others being Brenoritvrezorkre, Dzlvarv, Susvourtre, Torgeist, Vzaeurvbtre, Dvnaèbkre and (the best-known) Belkètre.

It cannot be said with certainty how many demos Moëvöt brought out. Some internet sites list up to twelve demos, but only two demos can definitely be attributed to this project: Voryathre (1993) and the impossibly named Ézléýfbdréhtr Vépréùb Zùérfl Màzàgvàtre Érbbédréà (1994).

Why do I associate Jean Rollin's films with Moëvöt's music?

Certainly there's more to the association than the mere fact that both artists are French.

Perhaps it seems odd to compare Rollin's poetic, highly intertextual films to the extreme and sometimes primitive genre of Black Metal. But even if Vorbd was part of the Black Metal scene, the music on the Moëvöt demos is not Black Metal in strictu sensu. Grimly buzzing guitars and blast-beating drums are conspicuous in their absence. Underlining this absence, we find choir-like singing, melancholic acoustic guitar chords, macabre Carnival of Souls-like organ playing, and extremely cinematic 'found sounds' of footsteps, children, church bells, birdsong. The only Black Metal element in the music are the agonized, rasping vocals, which are used only sparsely. If Rollin's films were explorations of a Surreal and very personal iconography, Moëvöt's music travels into the intimacy of Vordb's idiosyncratic musical-mental landscape.

One of the reasons I associate Rollin's films with Moëvöt's music is that there is something anachronistic about Moëvöt's Black Romanticist music. Both Rollins films and Moëvöt's music tap into "... the revolutionary energies that appear in the 'outmoded' - in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings the earliest photos, objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago, fashionable restaurants when the vogue has begun to ebb from them." (Benjamin). The sex and violence in Rollin's films relate to their outmoded context as the Black Metal vocals relate to the other elements of Moëvöt's music.

Both Rollin and Moëvöt worked under severe budgetary constrains, but manage to turn this to their advantage: Rollin by harnessing the energies that emerge in the 'outmoded', Moëvöt by using the primitivity of the recording technology to explicitly introduce "...the technical frame, the unheard material pre-condition of the recording, on the level of content." (K-Punk)

Like the films of Jean Rollin, the music of Moëvöt is charmingly amateurish and largely improvised. The music lacks rhythm, structure, development. The music is based around musical motifs and sequences of motifs, and not based on a logical composition. One senses that for Moëvöt, the power of the motifs would be taken away if they were to be integrated into a conceptual construction.

I end this post with the juxtaposition of two YouTube videos of Moëvöt's music with the same number of trailers for Rollin's films. This collocation of videos is strong enough in itself to obviate the need for any further rationalization.

It is time to sleep, perchance to dream.

In einem Friedhof - Errance (Moëvöt)

Le Frisson Des Vampires
(Jean Rollin, 1971)

Zurghtapre-Chant d'Eternité I (Moëvöt)

La Rose De Fer
(Jean Rollin, 1973)

Post scriptum

This is the 400th post of this blog. The very first post was published on August 14th, 2006. It announced: 'This blog has been inspired by my visit to the exhibition "Undercover Surrealism" at the Hayward Gallery in London. The blog is intended to contain doctrines, fine arts, ethnography, variety. Expect dusty things, ethnographies of one-man-Cthulhu Cults, confused concepts, black and blackened musics, untruths.'

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shock Xpress - Mariangela Giordano (pt. 3)

This is the third post in a short series, which features trailers of films in which sultry Italian exploitation actress Mariangela Giordano starred. The series is inspired by an interview with the actress in the second Shock Xpress book.

(Andrea Bianchi, 1979)

La Bimba di Satana (Mario Bianchi, 1980)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Black Metal Sound Poetry



Vermyapre Zuerkle Uatre
Kloarbe Vurtrue Zuerkle Goebtre
Aaprab Vergz Varbadre
Berv Tre Mve
Eakre Uatre Zurgtapre
Uatr Borvuatre Zuerkle Droer

These words are not the work of a forgotten Dadaist or Futurist of the interwar period - they are the song titles of French Black Metal band Brenoritvrezorkre's 1995 demo Ervoelbtre.

Brenoritvrezorkre was only one of many impossibly named French Black metal bands of the mid-nineteennineties: others are Dzlvarv, Dvnaèbkre, Moëvöt, Vzaéurvbtre, Vrepyambhre, Vagézaryavtre, Mveprebrartre, Eëtheryarkluatre, Mavbtreëh and Norzbgorobtre, to name a few. They were part of a shadowy group of bands collectively known as 'Les Légions Noires' ('The Black Legions').

These strange band names and song titles can be said to form part of a long underground tradition, that of the carnivalization of speech. As I've written before, Black Metal is a carnival genre, a genre of destruction and uncrowning. In Black Metal, the good is dethroned in favor of it's opposite - both in a moral-ideological sense (evil) and in an aesthetic sense (bad in the sense of ugly). The strange song titles and band names of 'Les Légions Noires' can be appreciated as carnival language. In his classic 1965 study Rabelais and his world, Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin writes:

"One of the popular forms of comic speech was the so-called coq-à-l'âne, "from rooster to ass." This is a genre of intentionally absurd verbal combinations, a form of completely liberated speech that ignores all norms, even those of elementary logic. The forms of verbal absurdities were widespread during the Middle Ages. (...) In a period of the radical breaking-up of the world's hierarchical picture and the building of a new concept, leading to a revision of all old words, objects, and ideas, the coq-à-l'âne acquired an essential meaning: it was a form which granted momentary liberation from all logical links - a form of free recreation. It was, so to speak, the carnivalization of speech, which freed it from the gloomy seriousness of official philosophy as well as from truisms and commonplace ideas."

Genealogically, one can link the Medieval coq-à-l'âne to the Renaissance works of Rabelais, to Paul Scheerbart, Christian Morgenstern, Lewis Carroll, Pétrus Borel, Molière, Quirinus Kuhlmann, the Russian and Italian Futurists, and the Dadaists - and from there to 'Les Légions Noires'. Black Metal has the most unexpected antecedents.

Nevertheless, it must be said that Bakhtin's reading of the coq-à-l'âne is rather more optimistic and emancipatory than the rather macabre, terrifying tone of the Black Metal of 'Les Légions Noires'. In spirit, the carnival speech of these French Black Metal bands is closer to the tragic modernist grotesque than to the comic Rabelaisian grotesque.


If one focuses on the acoustic sensation produced on the ear by the strange combinations of vowels and consonants of these band names and song titles, one senses that they have an insidiously powerful feeling-tone. The acoustic sensation suggests the darkness of Transsylvanian tombs. The band names sacrifice logopoeia (meaning) to phonopoeia (sound value); they are a rot of referentiality in the stinking soil of sound. But even among these pseudo-primitive sounds, one finds words which suggest French originals: 'Vermyapre' clearly sounds like 'Vampyre'. It is these words which give a tension to the band names and song titles which is absent from 'pure' sound poetry.

The names and titles have not transcended meaning, they have transgressed it, and inhabit the border zone between language and that which is beyond language.

Post scriptum

This Les Légions Noires Journal on Last FM states: "What is the language they use? The language is called Gloatre and was entirely created by Vordb. Know that Gloatre does NOT contain umlauts, the word Moëvöt is not Gloatre since the project existed before Les Légions Noires. We suppose that Gloatre is based on French language and the aesthetic of the letters, hence you can’t really translate it. The easiest word might be Vérmyapre which means vampire. Vérmyaprèb is plural." Note that I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement.

Surprisingly, Jahsonic hasn't posted yet about Mikhail Bakhtin's Rabelais and his world (there is a big article on the Art and Popular Culture Wiki, though). Jan, Bakhtin's birthday is November 17th, so perhaps you should aim for the day of his death, which is a lot closer: March 7th.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shock Xpress - Mariangela Giordano (pt. 2)

In an article in the second Shock Xpress book, film critics Alan Jones and Mark Ashworth interview sultry Italian film star Mariangela Giordano. Here are some more trailers of the films discussed in the interview.

Una Lunga Fila Di Croci (Sergio Garrone, 1969)

Il Conto è Chiuso (Stelvio Massi, 1976)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brenoritvrezorkre - Four Demos


Death is not an instantaneous act; it implies a lasting transition which is terminated only when the dissolution of the body has ended. Between the moment of expiration and the moment all rotting flesh has disappeared, lies the period during which corpses are dangerous, polluting, contagious. The dead do not go to the land of souls until they are without flesh, and until they are without flesh they haunt the living like guests who have outstayed their welcome. But not only the spirit of the deceased is dangerous: until the corpse has decomposed completely, it is particularly vulnerable to the attacks of evil spirits and all the harmful influences by which man is threatened.

The intensity of the dangerous, polluting and contagious qualities of the corpse can be represented by a parabola. When the deceased has died recently, outward forms of decomposition are not yet visible, and the body is still retaining its form. As the corpse starts to rot, and the physical identity of the dead person slowly becomes formless, the taboos with regard to the corpse become stronger. The danger, pollution and contagion are at their apex - or should I say: nadir - when the corpse has become viscuous, unstable but not yet fluid, soft, yielding and compressible, sticky, clinging. After that point, the formlessness slowly treacles away to reveal the whiteness of the bones, the architectural, almost monumental structure of the skeleton. When the skeleton is clean, all danger has subsided.

The funerary rites of many cultures serve to prevent the apex being reached, by mummifying or embalming the corpse so that it does not become formless: think of the ancient Egyptian or contemporary American funereal practices. Other cultures attempt to avoid the apex by short-cutting the transitional period: cremation is one example of such a practice, the necrophagic endocannibalism which was practiced by some Australian Aboriginal and Dayak tribes is another.


Les Légions Noires ('The Black Legions') were a group of Black Metal bands which were active in France between 1993 and 1996. Mütiilation, Belketre, Torgeist and Vlad Tepes are the best known of these bands.

Emulating Norwegian Black Metal pioneers such as Mayhem, Burzum, Ulver and Darkththrone, the French LLN Black Metal bands aimed for a production style which was metaphorically called 'necro': very lo-fi, cold- and thin-sounding, blown out, in the red. The sound recording style mimicked the decay of the corpse.

Of all LLN bands, the shadowy and impossibly named band Brenoritvrezorkre ventured closest to the most dangerous, the most polluting, the most contagious point in the process of rotting. The four demos which the band released over the course of 1995 and 1996, contain music that is unstable, viscuous, formless. They are amongst those rare albums which seem to exude a smell, a stench (Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is another one). Listening to the music, one fears the aural dirt might rub off onto one's inner ear, tainting forever the pleasure of listening to music. Like the dead who are not yet without flesh, the decayed sound of Brenoritvrezorkre can haunt its audience - it is certainly haunting me at the moment. But not only Brenoritvrezorkre itself is dangerous: it has opened the gates for other baneful musical spirits such as those of Maurizio Bianchi and Abruptum.

Angelic spirits seem far away: far off is the aestheticizing of decay by William Basinski in his 'The Disintegration Loops I-IV': a series of albums which presented music constructed from withering magnetic material - but pure, consonant, beauteous, majestic, angelic, ethereal music. In a sense, Basinski takes an idealist, utopian, redemptive position with regards to decaying sound recordings. Other than Brenoritvrezorkre, Basinski's music is the product of Hegelian trancendentalism. Thus, Basinski's music is the antinomy of Brenoritvrezorkre's Black Metal. For Brenoritvrezorkre is the darkness of earth where bodies rot, for Basinski the luminosity of the heavens.

I hear Brenoritvrezorkre's music as haunted by the earliest work of Industrial music pioneer Maurizio Bianchi. Bianchi, using the moniker 'Sacher-Pelz', released four compelling C60 cassettes in 1979 and 1980: Cainus, Venus, Cease To Exist, and Velours. From Jim Haynes' review in The Wire 216: "With what appears to be a homebuilt set-up of multiple tape machines, a turntable and a few simple electronic devices, Bianchi abused his vinyl collection of Kraftwerk, Neu!, Morricone soundtracks and unidentified disco tunes to arrive at a mutilated version of monotonous loops and varyspeed warble. What little references to Autobahn that could be heard had been disfigured and corroded as if the sounds themselves had been exhumed from a lengthy burial in a murky swamp." Brenoritvrezorkre sounds like what Sacher-Pelz would have sounded like had Bianchi not abused "...his vinyl collection of Kraftwerk, Neu!, Morricone soundtracks and unidentified disco tunes..." but a vinyl collection of Mayhem, Darkthrone and Abruptum and unidentified early-nineties Norwegian and Finnish Black Metal albums. The music exudes the same sense of misanthropy, inner turmoil, existential frustration and boredom. Boredom? Yes, like Bianchi's repetitive tape loops, Brenoritvrezorkre is boring - but it's not the boredom of endlessly regurgitated clichés and stereotypes, it is boring like the work of the Marquis de Sade. In the works of Sade, Bianchi and Brenoritvrezorkre the musical or literary elements are repeated excessively, like a litany, like a mantra, until the referent is empty. Brenoritvrezorkre presents the pleasure of an agitated ennui.

Rather than from the three main mythological ancestors of Black Metal - Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone - Brenoritvrezorkre seems to have descended from the decentered and destructured Black Metal of the Swedish band Abruptum. There is the same sense of the absurd about the music, the same ugliness and clumsiness, the same retarded anti-aestheticism - even if Brenoritvrezorkre plays a lot faster than Abruptum. But where Abruptum's albums present 'neutral, transparent' field recordings of transgressive performance art actions, Brenoritvrezorkre foreground the opacity and materiality of music as a recorded artifact. Unlike Abruptum, the spectre of Brenoritvrezorkre is textural, explicitly introducing "...the technical frame, the unheard material pre-condition of the recording, on the level of content." (K-Punk). The decay of recording technology: that is the very essence of Brenoritvrezorkre.

Brenoritvrezorkre seeks out the point at which all the rot, and all the harmful influences of rot, are at their most intense. Their music is revolting.

Post scriptum

You can find Brenoritvrezorkre's four demos here, at the consistently interesting Cosmic Hearse blog.

When will the LLN corpus be exhumed for a proper rerelease? Southern Lord, do for the LLN bands what you did for the early Abruptum tapes!

The four Sacher-Pelz tapes were rereleased on cd in this beautiful box in 2001 in a limited edition of 480: one of these is the pride and joy of my record collection. The box will be rereleased by Menstrual Recordings.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Shock Xpress - Mariangela Giordano (pt. 1)

In a nice article in the second Shock Xpress book, film critics Alan Jones and Mark Ashworth interview sultry Italian film star Mariangela Giordano, tracking her career from the peplums she made in the 1950s and 1960 to the spaghetti horror films she made in the 1980s.

Here are the trailers to some of the films discussed in the interview.

La Regina delle Amazzoni (Vittorio Sali, 1960)

Joko Invoca Dio... e Muori
(Antonio Margheriti, 1968)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Black Metal Conspiracy (pt. 2)

Maurice Blanchot describes the Revolution and the Terror - not only those of the eighteenth century but those of the 19th and especially 20th century as well - as motivated by a fear of secret conspiracies:

"It is in the eighteenth century that the idea of a plot secretly fomented by some men against others brings trickery down from heaven and ignites within each individual a specific distrust, ready to flare up in violent action. To us this seems very puerile. Priests as conscious agents of a universal conspiracy, the world divided up into small groups of men who know, who choose and decide, a great number of others who know less and do not decide but act in conformity with the secret knowledge, and the ignorant masses, compelled to act and live in total incomprehension of the meaning of their movements - this view worthy of a novel, which in fact does fuel novels up through Radcliffe, Jean-Paul, Goethe and The Visionary by Schiller, seems to us painfully crude by comparison to the labyrinthine ideas of the Orient. And so it is. But this crudeness has considerable educational importance. It restores concrete reality to mystification, gives it a social form, lends it a human face and, dividing the world strictly between tricksters and the tricked, makes the former responsible and inclines the latter to violence. The idea of a plot presupposes the intention to deceive. 'I have nothing to do with it' loses currency as an excuse. The Revolution and the Terror are propelled by the idea of a responsibility which is always entire and won't stand for any qualification. To be suspect in the slightest means to be completely guilty, and that means death. To be suspect is to have within oneself something obscure and indecipherable, which must be read, inversely, as the proof of a clearly and intentionally evil undertaking - of membership in a shady intrigue from which death will separate one right away, in the most decisive, and, as it were, trenchant manner. The plainly displayed death by the guillotine's blade is meant precisely to cut clean through the snarl of the plot which no one would ever manage to untangle. This clarity is the clean decisiveness of reason, and reason also has the sharpness of that cut which isolates the head and, in certain cases, ironically prepares its apotheosis."

In one of the best-known photographs of Mayhem's Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth, he wore a long cape and flourished an épée (fencing sword), a weapon that points to the eighteenth century, the time of Alexandre Dumas "Les Trois Mousquetaires", Absolutism, Enlightenment - and conspiracies. Aarseth referred to the early Norwegian Black Metal scene as the "Black Metal Inner Circle", suggesting the existence of a small group of men "...who know, who choose and decide, a great number of others who know less and do not decide but act in conformity with the secret knowledge...".

Burzum's Kristian 'Varg' Vikernes killed Aarseth, thereby separating himself right away, in the most decisive manner, from the playful conspiracy of which he used to be a member. After murderously disentangling himself from Aarseth conspiratorial 'Inner Circle', he started to subscribe to an ideology of Terror, an ideology which committed the largest-scale killing out of fear of a Jewish conspiracy. That ideology of Terror was National Socialism. Thus, Vikernes's ideological position mirrored his actions, and both mirror Blanchot's interpretation of the eighteenth century developments with regards to conspiracies.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Shock Xpress - Jean Yarbrough

In an article in the second Shock Xpress book, film critic Kim Newman investigates the films of the almost-forgotten director Jean Yarbrough. YouTube features only one trailer by Yarbrough, which you can see below. However, you can see the films The Devil Bat (1940) and Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) in their entirety here and here.

She-Wolf of London (Jean Yarbrough, 1946)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Black Metal Conspiracy (pt. 1)

Maurice Blanchot: "Children, whose suspicion that they are constantly being deceived is ever vigilant, show us the connection between games and and an uncertain, indefinite deception which renders all acts thrilling, solemn and wondrous. But, when the children perceive that certain grown-ups, generally their parents, are the instigators of this duplicity against them, then everything is apt to become more serious: distrust solidifies. The dividing line which until then, at least in bourgeois milieux, split the world in two - on one side family members and close friends, the luminous world of the good, and on the other side the street, ill-dressed people, night prowlers, evil - distressingly passed right through the territory children had felt to be secure: their parents may still embody the good, but it is a good which can't be trusted, and craftiness is required to protect oneself against it."

The early Norwegian Black Metal scene is often referred to as the "Black Metal Inner Circle" - by Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth first of all - while such an Inner Circle in all likelihood never existed. Thus, the use of the term "Black Metal Inner Circle", rather than pointing to an actual social formation, points to a desire to be part of a conspiracy.

There is something puerile - or to put it more positively: boyishly playful - about this desire. It reminds me of the conspiracy games boys like, with membership cards, secret meeting places, cryptography and so on. We should not forget that Øystein Aarseth was only fifteen when he formed the original Mayhem line-up in 1983 - an age when many boys still play conspiracy games. And as I've written before (here and here), Black Metal is a highly playful genre of music. Certainly, the conspiracy game of the "Black Metal Inner Circle" must have added a sense of the "...thrilling, solemn and wondrous..." to the life of adolescents in the boring, bourgeois Norway of the 1980s. Of course, the conspiracy game soon became a deadly serious affair. But that moral seriousness in no way detracts from the playful nature of the conspiracy. Let us not forget that the grimmest of violence is part and parcel of another form of play, sports; more blood has been shed in the cause of soccer - a mere game! - than all Black Metal hordes together can ever hope to spill.

Following Blanchot's interpretation of conspiracy games enables us to speculate about the origins of Black Metal culture. It allows us to see Black Metal conspiracies such as Mayhem as a rebellious reciprocation of the deceptions played upon them by adults. When the adults chose to muddy, to make indistinct the dividing line which split the world into a luminous side and an evil one, the young conspirators reciprocated by at once reaffirming the boundary between the two sides and transgressing them: they chose to abandon the side of "... family members and close friends, the luminous world of the good..." altogether and to form a Cabal emulating " ...ill-dressed people, night prowlers, evil...".

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Wrnlrd - Aenmity Shining

I've always been proud that Bruce Adams is one of the readers of this blog. He's the co-founder of Kranky, which I loved dearly in the mid-nineteennineties. Currently, he's the head honcho of Flingco Sound System. Thanks to his generosity, Documents readers can access a special Wrnlrd EP, "Aenmity Shining" here. Specially commissioned by FSS, it's a hint of the "Myrmidon" album to come this year.