There isn’t another album much like Comus’s extraordinary First Utterance, and perhaps one should be thankful. While still deeply rooted in the wyrdfolk vein, First Utterance — the title alone evokes magical incantations, or an initial quickening of the Logos — is positively unearthly. With songs about hanging, rape, murder, the execution of Christians — and, ultimately, the deep, dark woods — Comus’s 1971 album is an unsettling listen.
The first song off the album, “Diana,” isn’t really the best track; that honor goes to “Drip Drip” which is too long to be uploaded here. (That song also has the distinction of having one of its lines, “My arms your hearse,” borrowed by the prog-metal band Opeth for one of its album titles.)
“Diana” chronicles a mad pursuit through a forest (“Lust he follows virtue close / Through the steaming woodlands / His darkened blood through bulging veins” the song begins); the near-hysteric quality of the vocals, the bizarre bongo drum break, and the overall tinge of psychedelic instrumentation make it one of the quintessential wyrdfolk tracks. (It is also famously covered by Current 93 on the Horsey album; David Tibet’s declaimed vocals aren’t as creepy as Comus’s, but the cover version features a fantastic relentlessly looped violin.) The singers entreat the pursued Diana to “kick [her] feet up,” but the virgin goddess, chased by lust (who “bares his teeth and whines”), can’t be coming to a good end here: “Mud burns his eyes but desire burns his mind / Fear in her eyes as the forest grins…”
Hear it (4.17 mb).