Let me go to hell, that’s all I ask and go on cursing them there and them look down and hear me, that might take some of the shine off their blissSamuel Beckett

Chaos Theory collage visualsThis gig took place on an ordinary Tuesday when this gig took place and it wasn’t just a great one but one that left its mark on this year’s performances. because it was perfectly organised, it could transcend its expected aims. The story that was narrated through sound in 3 ½ hours was one that was rooted in personal experiences. For the sake of this text, let’s compare this gig to the walk of a character on a path with different surfaces.

Act I: Redemption-Riotmiloo

Disfigured, Ignored, Vilified, Immolated, Isolated, Rejected… or else « Abîmée, Attristée, Blessée, Brûlée, Craquelée, Crevasée…je suis la pierre soudée… » (lyrics from the song : ‘La Pierre Soudée‘) were the words that enveloped the whole set of Riotmiloo. These powerfully negative adjectives, together with lyrics from the rest of the songs in the setlist, appeared in two screens at the back of the stage and on the side of the space andRiotmiloo live provided more context to her strong performance. During the set, the meaning of these words was challenged as they were accompanied by movement filled with concepts of empowerment, of control of one’s destiny and the right to determine one’s life. It was this direct juxtaposition between phrases like ‘…I am the monster you made…‘ and the determination of the rhythms and the beats, that created this idea of a character in redemption. Emilie and Eva made sure that all the elements of their stage presence stood for overcoming struggles, whether these concerned personal experiences or had to do with larger ideas. The debut album of Riotmiloo entitled ‘La Pierre Soudée‘ includes 11 songs, real life stories of female abuse which, through power electronics and industrial soundscapes, attempt to become a sonic weapon of Eva Kolme live photoempowerment. Six of these songs were performed during this opening set among which were, ‘La Pierre Soudée‘, ‘Monster‘, ‘Child Bride‘, ‘Fly As A Pet‘. The imaginary character that was traversing this gig at a symbolic level, was one and all of these stories and it was at various moments within this performance that its empowerment took the form of the fist that Riotmiloo raised throughout her set. Wearing an armband that wrote ‘Stand Against Hate’, Riotmiloo offered a captivating set that did not confine itself within the Riotmiloo collagelimits of the stage, but actively included the audience in it. Eva Kolme on the other hand, was the seemingly calmer force not only aesthetically but also in terms of movement. The sound was great and it allowed us to be immersed into the movement and the delivery of the lyrics that was done in a direct and theatrical way that felt as if every word was addressed to each one of us. Being at one of Riotmiloo’s gigs is always a rich experience which always unveils a different side of the songs that only adds to the previous performances of them.

Act II- Retribution Lingua Ignota

Redemption leads to retribution and this can take many forms. It is probably the darkest path a psyche can traverse and that was exactly where the imaginary character of this gig ‘walked on’. It is a path whose magnetic force is greater than any other and can determine the course of one’s life at the end…Before carrying on and get carried away in the same way this happened during Lingua Ignota’s set, some background might be useful to those not so familiar with Kristin Hayter’s work. This is a classically trained musician who has developed an experimental attitude towards music that does not come easy as a result of classical training. She is an Lingua Ignota live photoartist who initially self released her first two albums entitled  ‘Let The Evil Of His Own Lips Cover Him‘ and ‘All Bitches Die‘, before catching the attention of Sargent House, in the music family of which, she is now included. Her second record was part of a diploma thesis entitled BURN EVERYTHING TRUST NO ONE KILL YOURSELF, which had as a starting point, her own experiences as a survivor of abuse and manipulation, violence and harm. The thesis was divided in 3 parts and was comprised of thirteen songs based on a 10,000-page text that included “… lyrics, message board posts, and liner notes from subgenres of extreme music that mythologize misogyny, such as: black metal, hardcore, harsh noise, power electronics, grindcore, and with particular attention to pornogrind, a subset of grindcore with lyrical content that graphically details sexual violence. This document also contains court papers, audio recordings, and police filings from my own experiences of violence. The 10,000 pages were assembled using a markov chain in Shannon’s nomenclature in orders three and four..” and an installation. (e.g. A Markov chain is a stochastic model describing a sequence of possible events in which the probability of each event depends only on the state attained in the previous event-source: Wikipedia)

“I decided on 10,000 pages because that’s my body weight in standard paper and it’s an impossible book object…I wanted to create something vast, unreadable, and terrifying… the written object, the installation, the recorded musical object, and the performance, all of which examine and recontextualize the tropes of violence against women in music.”

Lingua Ignota’s work is corporeal, more than it is conceptual and this is something not everybody can or is willing to support. For this reason it has a different ‘weight’, it is not theatrical and it is not artistic in the strict sense. Her record ‘All Bitches Die‘ was the third part of the thesis that was based on the powerful melodies of Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ and its raw choreographic interpretation by Pina Bausch. Inside the thesis there were explanations about the structure of the songs and their relation to Stravinsky’s work.

“…my ongoing work with the project LINGUA IGNOTA is to appropriate the tropes of male-dominated extreme music and to re-articulate these tropes in a meaningful way for survivors of violence, eschewing traditional models of ‘healing’ in favor of Moral Ambiguity and Total Nihilism…”

Lingua Ignota live photoThe inner sleeve of the record reads: ‘This record is RETRIBUTION‘ and this is exactly how its four songs shall be perceived whether one listens to them during a live set or at home. This record is a catharsis that is also sacrificial in its nature. I came to the sound of Lingua Ignota accidentally and whilst I didn’t know many details, it was after 1’ into ‘For I Am The Light (And Mine Is The Only Way Now) that I stopped listening to it, convinced that something greater had provoked this performance and determined to find out more about what has made this artist scream her heart out in this awe-inspiring, dramatic manner. This, I thought, is not just art… Detaching the performance we experienced at Electrowerkz from the subject matter of the record is a kind of ‘betrayal’ because one cannot manifest without the other and this means that any discussion about good or bad sound, typical or atypical, interesting or not, is null. It seems that any attempt to write about Lingua Ignota’s work using words that pertain to taste, is deemed to fail because what we really experience is the sound of human existence on the verge of self sacrifice. At some level this is so personal that it almost makes the very presence of an audience feel kind of intrusive. The sound might be aesthetically close to noise, doom metal, black metal but it also writes all of these genres off because it is the sound of a lived experience that cannot be replicated or appropriated in any artistic context.

Lingua Ignota on the trail of Jarboe

One of the first records that had an equally strong impact on me as ‘All Bitches Die’, was Jarboe’s also ‘corporeal’ record ‘Anhedoniac’. This was also a ‘sacrificial’record (as Jarboe herself has explained in numerous interviews during the 90s), the live performances of which, revealed the human psyche at one of its most obscure moments. Like Kristin, Jarboe had also created this album while going through a traumatic self transformative (almost self destructive) process…

Kristin’s performance at Electrowerkz was raw, strong and very brief and had such a strongly visible impact on the people that surrounded her, that for the rest of the evening some of them seemed to ‘struggle’ to ‘shake it off’. It was a sort of collective ‘surrender‘ during ‘Holy Is Thy Name (Of My Ruthless Axe)’, evident through a change in the body Lingua Ignota live photolanguage of several people in the audience that ‘sealed’ the effect this set and the delivery of the lyrics had. While at the beginning of the set, people’s postures and gazes revealed determination and toughness, after a few songs, poses were relaxed as if something had struck their tough external surface, eyes were looking to the floor and the overall impression was that everyone was immersed in very personal thoughts while postures had a devotional aspect in them. The room was totally silent and Kristin’s screams and operatic vibratos felt like they were scratching its surfaces. Some people were seen reaching to the person next to them, in a gesture that acknowledged the power of the moment and of the feelings. This was a result of an unbreakable, uncontested darkness, a feeling beyond what was in front of them and which was so intense that everything else had to give way. It was as if the complexity of the collective body language, was loosened, as if the toughest knot had been ‘solved’. The feeling in the room had been strongly charged and altered in a matter of a few minutes. I have NEVER seen this being achieved before. People who have followed the work and performances of Diamanda Galás have also experienced the effect that such a dark presence can have and yet she never challenged the audience in that way, she never walked among them creating what Kristin did next…

All my rapists lay beside me, All my rapists cold and grey…’ (lyrics: ‘Holy Is Thy Name (Of My Ruthless Axe)’

Kristin is of course different from both Diamanda Galás and Jarboe even though she shares the fierceness with which both these musicians experience life. It has been evident from the almost destructive way she uses her voice, the easeness with which she turns into an operatic siren, and  the aloof, confrontational way in Lingua Ignota live photowhich she positioned her small keyboards at the base of the stage, among us. Even before she started untangling a very long cable, this positioning made sure that this was much about expressing herself ‘through’ us and ‘against’ us. She opened up a tiny space around her, placing three industrial lamps to the floor at the base of the keyboards. ‘A flame does not really need much space…‘ (I thought). Despite the fact that there were so many people so close to her, she did not flinch or show any signs of unease, she did not engage with anyone, she did not contest to find her space, she just created it, a gap, a blackness, somehow…she ‘was not there’. This ceremonial way of setting up did not last long and the atmosphere was already feeling quite tense starting with ‘All Bitches Die (Bitches All Die Here)‘ and carrying on with a truly unexpected cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene‘ which is included in this year’s joint release with The Rita. Kristin then took the service lights with her and walked through us, opening up a path among all the people that had completely filled the space. This path was not opened because of the lights, it was created in spite of the fact that the audience was indeed an emotional ‘wall’ that somehow did not matter or had to be ‘taken down’! Once she got almost to the very back, she wrapped those lights around her and started whipping her back with them. It was because I changed my position and alternated between the audience level and the stage, that her placement made more sense. At a symbolic level she was a candle lingua ignota liveand even though she had put herself among all those people with the ease with which something sharp like a burning knife can cut through a tough material, mentally she was truly at some other place, a source of wicked light, sacrificial and destructive… Despite the fact that she had followed a horizontal path to reach the back of the space, emotionally and conceptually her procession was steeply vertical. Even though everyone who surrounded her was looking at her, at a symbolic level she was at the very bottom of an abyss having gotten there in defiance of anything that might have been ‘in the way’, making us look down there at this hypothetical torch she was holding up. Her facial expressions gave a glimpse of a drama that her coarse shouts and dramatized performance were referring to and it was at the distortion of these expressions that all the essence of what Lingua Ignota is, was revealed. This performance was not a ‘message’ it was all about witnessing. Coming ‘back’ from this area at the back, was equally easy despite the fact that the path had not remained open. It seemed as if she was walking on a leveled surface that did not have any resistance, leading naturally to ‘Woe To All (On The Day Of My Wrath) which was the only song that was performedLingua Ignota live photo on stage and which ‘covered’ every last face in the audience with a darker shade… On stage she was hitting the lights on the floor as well as on herself, in an act that beared some resemblance to the ritual of self-flagellation. There was still no eye contact with the audience but after this song, everyone around also stopped trying to make eye contact with her, seeming captured by the energy she had released. ‘God Gave Me No Name (Nothing Can Hide From My Flame) had some of us exchange gazes, people who have flooded the stage at every corner, people who still made some eye contact but dared not to do anything that would disturb the atmosphere. Her set ended shortly after, in complete silence, the kind that accompanies a great drama, with a performance of ‘Holy Is Thy Name (Of My Ruthless Axe) where almost everyone looked and felt very bitter…Electrowerkz, in a moment that I seriously doubt that it can be replicated, was transformed into a cathedral while a character was going through the process of retribution, dragging with her, the collective psyche of an audience.  Dear Kristin, it was all ‘too much’ and it will continue to be for a long time. Congratulations seem irrelevant and inadequate. Thank you…

Act III-Reformation: Author&Punisher

Clearing my mind in order to enjoy Author&Punisher’s set was a challenge and the brief time that preceded it, did not really help. However, it was the Author&Punisher live photoreverberation of the first sonic sequence, that swept part of this dark veil that Lingua Ignota had ‘weaved’ which allowed me to resume my thinking about the imaginary character that was traversing this gig and was now about to enter an environment with different sonic characteristics in order to begin the process of reformation. One of the greatest ways reformation can be manifested in, is creativity, an urge to do things in different ways, having an understanding of the mechanisms and the skill to redesign things. It is truly a different way of seeing… Author&Punisher a.k.a Tristan Shone, took all the energy that had been filling us, distorted it, slowed it down, gave to it a noisy glow, a dampened down ceremonial rhythm and  transformed it in such a way, that would allow the traumatic to regain its brilliant vindictiveness.

Starting by making us admire his creativity and skill, Author&Punisher brought with Author&Punisher live photohim on stage his beautifully customized equipment that aesthetically matched his music. Having studied kinetic sculpture and being an engineer, this is a musician that treats music as a craft in more ways than meet the eye.  A structure that worked as a microphone but strongly resembled an accelerator pedal and a weird mechanism operated with a kind of piston that transmitted and amplified rhythm, were key elements of Tristan’s stage appearance. These structures enhanced the industrial elements of the sound and created the impression that what we had in front of us was a hybrid robotic structure with a human head that transmitted sounds. ‘Hidden’ behind these two ‘machines’ that could not be moved, Tristan had managed to made the whole floor vibrate with a heavy, assertive, dynamic rhythm. ‘Pharmacide’ ,’Nihil Strength’ and ‘The Speaker Is Systematically Blown’ from last year’s great album Beastland were a few of the songs that were Author&Punisher live photoincluded in his set. This was the soundtrack of a situation that changes its course, of a mind that focuses laboriously into looking for the raw materials needed to rebuild itself, of a psyche that feels less ‘weighed down’. Even though Tristan was quite static on stage, the mere sonic force of his music engaged everyone, straightening the postures, ‘clearing’ the gazes and changing the body language in a way that felt more ‘manageable’.

Author&Punisher live photoIn between the sets I met different people who all asked me if I was there to support a specific band. Even though this is typically a question asked during festivals, it soon became obvious to me that there was some sort of ‘calling’ that lead some people to this specific gig. I had the chance to discuss briefly with a young director who had been inspired by Lingua Ignota’s music and has included it in a movie that is expected to be released later this year. Even though the discussion was very brief we both admitted ‘I HAD to be here’. We were all left feeling quite differently after this gig, but it was evident that in the end, whether people attended this show following a personal type of ‘calling’ or not, everyone shared the realization of having been at a place of strong emotional and conceptual gravity!

“All the dead voices they make a noise like wings…Samuel Beckett

You can see more photos from this gig here.

Blaue Rosen box

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