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music

Your New Favorite Song.

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).

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music

some eerie music

Haven’t posted in a long while — just came back from a whirlwind trip to Ithaca, NY, and now a lot of catching up on paper-grading awaits me — but here’s a bit off a thread on the Zorn list.

Someone had requested some eerie music, that is, music that will freak you out if you were listening alone at night. Some mentioned Diamanda Galas — the Plague Mass is wonderful, but for my money Schrei X is the scarier, if less interesting, one — and Painkiller‘s Execution Ground (it is the Zorn list after all).

There’s a Nijiumu-sounding track on the Purple Trap box set called… Forest of Spirits, if I remember correctly, and one of the sections sounds just like what the title says, as if Keiji Haino placed some microphones in the woods and did a field recording and picked up disembodied sighing. Scary as all hell.

The soundtrack to The Exorcist is also extremely effective (the George Crumb piece in particular). Hear it also on the Kronos Quartet‘s amazing Black Angels album.

There is also a whole genre of so-called dark ambient music, though a good amount of the practitioners rely on the same tonality of drone. Lustmord’s “The Place Where the Black Stars Hang” is a great starting point, as is also “Heresy.”

Nurse With Wound‘s “Homotopy to Marie” is excellent as well — nowhere near as pure dada as some of Stapleton’s other stuff, nor as droney as, say, “Soliloquy for Lilith.”

Comus‘s “First Utterance” has a way of really getting under one’s skin, though since it’s acid-damaged psych folk it’s an acquired taste. But if the image of mad, gibbering violinists, hangings, and things in the woods appeals to you… (Later David Tibet would do a very fine cover of Comus’s “Diana” on Current 93‘s “Horsey” album — now that I think of it, listening to Current 93’s “Dogs Blood Rising” late at night really freaked me out.)

And now to black metal: it’s hard to take a group like Abruptum seriously because their main dudes are named It and Evil. (I keep thinking of Cousin It and Dr. Evil hamming it up together.) However, their album “Obscuritatem Advoco Amplectere Me” is nothing but pure howling and screaming for an hour. Guaranteed to scare your neighbors.