Tag: art book

David Lynch – Someone Is In My House – Art Book Review

Art: David Lynch
Title: Someone Is In My House
Release date: 19 February 2019
Pages: 304
Publisher: Prestel Publishing

David Lynch, Bob Sees Himself Walking Toward A Formidable Abstraction, 2000, oil and mixed media on canvas, courtesy of the artist.

After years of relative silence since the release of Inland Empire, David Lynch has been in the spotlight for the better part of the last three years. Twin Peaks: The Return set things in motion. For the first time since the early 90s, Lynch was on the minds of the mainstream masses, not just his usual rabid cult fan base. For those of us always wishing more focus would be put on Lynch’s many artistic endeavors outside of film, this has been a dream come true. All things Twin Peaks are back in commercial production, Blue Velvet finally received its Criterion Collection debut, the long lost Thought Gang (Lynch and Badalamenti) album was released.

David Lynch, Boy Lights Fire, 2010, mixed media on cardboard, courtesy the artist. Collection Bonnefantenmuseum

In the realm of books, we’ve also been fortunate. Nudes, reviewed by us, was released in late 2017. A 240 page art book packed with nude photography of women taken by David Lynch. That was followed by the semi-autobiography Room To Dream, also reviewed here. Now, 2019 is starting off with another huge art book featuring the works of David Lynch.

David Lynch, Couch Series #9, 2008, digigraphie, courtesy the artist and Galerie Karl Pfefferle, Munich

Someone Is In My House is the companion book to the currently running exhibition of the same name in the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, Netherlands. The exhibition will be running through 28 April 2019! Someone Is In My House showcases a multi-media selection of works, spanning the last fifty years. There is everything from pencil and pen sketches on torn out sheets of paper and collections of matchbook sketches to photography from ventures which would lead to the books and exhibitions of The Factory Photographs and Nudes.

David Lynch, untitled (Lodz), 2000, archival pigment print, courtesy the artist.

Someone Is In My House will be indispensable to the avid Lynch collector, but this book truly shines as an introduction to Lynch’s various art forms. Whereas books like the aforementioned The Factory Photographs and Nudes are straightforward art books, filled front to back with full-page photography, Someone Is In My House has a good bit more text, along with the large and beautiful images! We are given much more context for many of the included pieces. The various writers give us a bit of Lynch’s history to go with the images, as well as a number of examples from famous artists in history as comparison/contrast. Those familiar with Lynch’s history will find a handful of interesting details to be gathered, but these chapters/articles will prove highly useful to the reader that is only familiar with Lynch through film/television.

But there is plenty to attract the die-hards. The vast section “Works on Paper” is worth the price itself. Page after page of sketches, doodles, and an impressive number of lithographs give us one of the deepest views into Lynch’s subconscious yet. The matchbook collection, which I’ve heard about many times before, is presented here as well. Particularly as I gazed at these matchbooks for extended periods of time, I realized I’d be happier at my desk with this book and a cup of coffee than I would be seeing the matchbooks in person. Each stroke of Lynch’s ball-point pen seems to lead off into another universe yet to be uncovered.

David Lynch, Pete Goes To His Girlfriend’s House, 2009, mixed media on cardboard, courtesy the artist.

Paintings/Mixed Media is the other largest section of the book. This section would also be worth the money on its own. We are finally able to sit and gaze upon so many of these strange works that have been mentioned, or shown in passing in a documentary. Incredible pieces like “Bob’s Second Dream” are shown in full, but also have a close-up where you can study the writing and textures. Extracting meaning from the letters/words oddly strewn throughout many of these images can be an exercise in itself. Some of these works, which I’ve not enjoyed as much as others in the past, have given me the opportunity to gaze upon them in context, among other connected works, and a new appreciation for them has been sparked.

David Lynch, untitled (Lodz), 2000, archival pigment print, courtesy the artist .

The photography section is quite small, which isn’t surprising as Lynch’s photography has been presented to the public in books more than his paintings. But it still manages to feature some wonderful highlights, like the notorious “Chicken Kit” and “Fish Kit”. The “Chicken Kit” in particular shares disturbingly equal portions of humor and horror. There are also selections from the Factory and Nude photo collections, to give readers a taste of what they can expect in those books (the selections in this book appear to be exclusive, not re-used from those other books).

David Lynch, Girl Dancing, 2008, lithographie, courtesy the artist and Item Editions

The book is rounded out with a biography, further reading, selected exhibitions and selected filmography sections to help lead new Lynch fans off to discover more about this auteur.

David Lynch, Distorted Nude #4, 1999, archival pigment print, courtesy the artist

At roughly 10″x12″ and over 300 pages, Prestel has crafted a physical manifestation of Someone Is In My House worthy of its artistic content. The sturdy hardcover edition has thick pages and the images don’t present too terribly much glare when reading under lamp light. I would highly recommend this to the avid Lynch fan who already has a few of the other art books, or to the newcomer to Lynch’s art-life outside his film-directing career.

Written by: Michael Barnett

David Lynch – Nudes – ArtBook Review

Photography: David Lynch
Title: Nudes
Release date: November 2017
Pages: 240
Publisher: FondationCartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France.

Photos courtesy of FondationCartier. ©David Lynch

I first happened upon David Lynch in 1999. Lost Highway was playing on the Independent Film Channel. After those two hours, I would never look at cinematography the same way again. The darkness was all-encompassing. The actual events of the story were less important than the feelings the viewer experienced. A focus on mood and atmosphere build the basic foundation for David Lynch‘s oeuvre. Whether you came to his works through Blue Velvet, Eraserhead or Mulholland Dr., you likely found a similar love for his particular brand of darkness. Ten years after his last film, David Lynch has re-entered the spotlight in a big way with the return of Twin Peaks for a third season. That new season turned out to be about as complex as his most challenging films, and proves that he still has the drive to crush all expectations of what any particular form of art should seek to accomplish.

©David Lynch

During the excitement, which is still resounding from that new season of Twin Peaks, Lynch has recognized how many followers his works still attract. I’ve already reviewed his new [semi-auto]biography, Room To Dream. (Read the review here.) In Room To Dream, we were given a much better picture of how important art, in its many forms, is to David Lynch. Whether it is a doodle on a napkin, a painting, a lithograph or a photograph, Lynch has as much love for still art as he does for film. The style and format in which these works are created is incredibly varied.

“I like to photograph naked women. The infinite variety of the human body is fascinating: it is amazing and magic to see how different women are.”
                                                – David Lynch

Nudes has a specific focus. Nudes gives us a large collection of David Lynch‘s photography of the nude female body. With that said, many are likely to find little sexual nature in Nudes. Of course, the nude female body will likely draw some level of sexual attraction from people, but it certainly isn’t the focus. The feminine form and the integrity of the models are well honored here. This is not pornography, soft-core or otherwise. This is dark art. The darkness here really can’t be overstated. It is one of the main features of the collection. It is as prevalent as the female body itself, if not even more so.

©David Lynch

Those familiar with David Lynch: The Factory Photographs will find similarities to Nudes in style. Lynch created both these collections using a similar aesthetic template to that of some of his films, specifically Eraserhead and Inland Empire. We get that industrial district at night feeling. In the black and white sections of Nudes, in particular, we may find ourselves dehumanizing these images, with the skin losing its natural tones and taking on something less lively, less human.

©David Lynch

The color section of Nudes uses the female body in much the same ways, but the mood changes drastically. Throughout the color section the photos have a warm hue, with the yellows of the skin and reds of the lips standing in bold contrast to one another. The lips are one of the most moving features throughout this section. Thinking of scenes from Lost Highway, Mulholland Dr. and Blue Velvet, one would already realize how important lips are to Lynch’s aesthetics. Those close-up scenes of all these dames-in-distress, as they speak quietly into a phone, immediately comes to mind when browsing this section.

©David Lynch

Another important element in this collection, aside from the women and the darkness, is smoke. It’s used in a variety of ways, both in the color and B/W photos. Sometimes it is a languid exhale from the rosy lips of a model, other times it lingers in the air between the model and the camera in a purely atmospheric fashion. In both instances, it greatly adds to the seductive aesthetic as well as the mystery.

©David Lynch

Often, the true nature of the photograph is obscured. It can be almost impossible at times to discern which part(s) of the body is even on display. Delicate and pale skin illuminates the pages, as the body is only slightly revealed. The difficulty in discerning the parts of the body we are seeing adds the same sort of thing to this book that I love about Lynch’s films. Everything is not as it seems. Each photograph is not only a new pose, maybe a new model or a new location, but it is also a new mystery. We can spend a decent amount of our time contemplating and analyzing each photo.

©David Lynch

Every extra moment I can spend with the book makes me feel all the more pleased to have purchased it. This won’t be something that you will flip through quickly and toss aside. Each page deserves time and thought, worthy of the extra care one takes when confronted by an artist of top calibre. Lynch has created a collection which seems so simple in its preparation, but manages to draw the same level of admiration as some of his most complex works. Unlike many of his paintings, drawings and animations, we can see very close connections to his film aesthetics in this photography.

The physical book itself is brilliantly presented. FondationCartier pour l’art contemporain has been working with Lynch since they hosted his David Lynch, The Air Is On Fire exhibition. Since then, they’ve published his art-books The Air Is On Fire (2007), Snowmen (2007) and Works on Paper (2011). Nudes is hardback, 25 × 34 cm, and 240 pages featuring 125 black-and-white and color photographs. I honestly have never owned an art-book that nears the physical quality of this one, so I can’t speak too much on comparing it with other similar editions.

©David Lynch

I would highly recommend Nudes to lovers of photography of the human form. But, I would also feel confident that many lovers of his films, particularly the noir-esque films, will find plenty to enjoy in this collection. I spent most of an evening browsing it the day it arrived, slowly absorbing each photograph. I’ve since gone back and enjoyed the book several more times. In each instance, I’ve been incredibly pleased with the experience. It’s really exciting to see Lynch rising once again to the surface of the art world. I’m hoping this book will be a commercial success, because we really need more like this, and it would seem that Lynch has mountains of unpublished art that he can still share with the world. To many people, Lynch is one of the greatest artists of our time, I will be firmly in that camp until someone can finally convince me otherwise.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Antonin Artaud – Artaud 1937 Apocalypse – Book Review

Title: Artaud 1937 Apocalypse:
Antonin Artaud – Letters From Ireland – 14 August to 21 September 1937
Translated & Edited by: Stephen Barber, with notes and an Afterword
Photographs by: Karolina Urbaniak
Artworks by: Martin Bladh
Published by: Infinity Land Press
Release date: May 2018
Pages: 120

Cover art by Martin Bladh

Artaud 1937 Apocalypse publishes the letters Antonin Artaud sent to several of his correspondents during the period in 1937 when Artaud was visiting Ireland. Artaud left Paris for the island of Inishmore off the western coast of Ireland, then proceeded on to Galway and Dublin. During this time, Artaud sent a number of intriguing letters to a select few of his friends and correspondents. In these letters Artaud gives their recipients a general outline of his new purpose in life, and his reason for traveling to Ireland. The disturbing content of these letters is the body of and inspiration for this book, which is now able to be utilized by a much greater audience, as it has recently entered the public domain.

Until the release of this book my knowledge of Antonin Artaud and his work was lacking. I opted to begin reading the book before digging too deeply into the biography of the man. As I read, I realized this book and this man are both incredibly complex and interesting topics. So I decided to take a deep dive into his life and his works. What I found was a man of singular peculiarity. A man that could be equally as charming as he was denigrating. Yet, even with his strong anti-social tendencies and his phases of increased mania, Artaud managed to keep a devoted group of close friends and followers throughout his life, and to leave a lasting legacy after his death. These opposing forces are likely to be at least partially responsible for Artaud’s variety of art in its many forms. As I learned more about the man, and then began to read the book again, a greater appreciation for it certainly arose.

Endpaper collages by Martin Bladh

Speaking at the Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt at the ‘Evening Devoted to the Works of Antonin Artaud’ on 7 June 1946, Louis Jouvet said, “Artaud described long ago with unusually acute foresight, the essence of theater, what the theater may be like tomorrow, what the future holds for such forms as radio and films. In a work called The Theater and Its Double, this true seer formulated the essence of what we are all seeking in our own ways today. He forecast the genres now being revised. On language, acting, actors and direction, on expression and psychology in drama, Artaud wrote incisive predictions and, as far as dramatic phenomena can be defined, definitive ones.” Jouvet is referring here to Artaud’s analysis of the world of theatre during their time, as well as the concept and affect of his ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ which is described in the Encyclopædia Britannica as a “communion between actor and audience in a magic exorcism; gestures, sounds, unusual scenery, and lighting combine to form a language, superior to words, that can be used to subvert thought and logic and to shock the spectator into seeing the baseness of his world.”

Yet, Artaud 1937 Apocalypse doesn’t really deal with any of the topics of art. It instead focuses solely on Artaud’s vision of a coming apocalypse, in which he sees himself as the primary antagonizer of the lost masses and their false conceptions of the holy realms. His vision is an amalgamation of Christian and Hindu concepts of a triad of divine power. Both of which are one and the same, and both of which are misunderstood, as he sees it, by the followers of said faiths. In his letters Artaud not only illustrates his own role in this coming apocalypse, but he explains to his friends how they are also connected to the upcoming events, and how the elements of the heavens themselves will war amongst each other. The letters can vary from a quick warning of some upcoming event to a detailed explanation of how and why various of his correspondents should abandon their current preoccupations and join him in this effort which he sees as the difference between a new beginning and the end of everything. Some letters include spells, protective or destructive, depending upon the recipient. Many of the letters included pleas for money, something Artaud was desperately lacking from this period forward.

Photography by Karolina Urbaniak

Interestingly enough, the events of this book, of course, took place not long before the second World War. The apocalypse may not have unfolded as Artaud had imagined it would, but some version of an apocalypse certainly left its mark on humanity during those years. Ironically, I suppose, Artaud actually had no influence on WWII whatsoever, as he spent the entirety of the war in a series of psychiatric hospitals. During this period, he was repeatedly subjected to electro-convulsive therapy numbering in the dozens of “treatments”, which they likely used on him, at least occasionally, as punishment for unwanted behavior. Needless to say, this trip to Ireland, and then his immediate institutionalization upon return to France is likely the most chaotic and troubling part of his life.

Infinity Land Press took no shortcuts on this one. While the book is only 120 pages in length, there is plenty of interesting information here to absorb, over multiple readings. The book is hard-bound with a bound silk bookmark. The cover-art, created by Martin Bladh (IRM, Skin Area, Infinity Land Press), is a collage consisting of three images of Artaud’s face, each from a different period. There are also collages by Martin Bladh on each of the inner endpapers. Karolina Urbaniak provides the utterly magnificent photographs dispersed throughout the book. She took all these photos herself, on a trip to Ireland, in preparation for the book, where she followed the path of Artaud’s historical travels. The power of these photos in the narrative can’t be understated. Urbaniak captures scenes that seem almost otherworldly in their uniqueness. Jagged rocks protruding from the ground as far as the eye can see, violent waves colliding forcing a torrent of water into the sky, and the foundations of long forgotten structures make up the subject matter of these photographs and paint a vivid picture of the world Artaud was witnessing around himself during this period.

Photography by Karolina Urbaniak

The final element to this book is the work of Stephen Barber. Barber has been an authority on the works and correspondences of Antonin Artaud for years. His contribution here takes Artaud 1937 Apocalypse from an aesthetically pleasing collection of letters to a well rounded English translation and commentary. Artaud wrote all these letters in French, so one of the major undertakings of this book was to create an English translation which would still capture the electrifying wording used by Artaud. Though I don’t speak French, and therefore can’t have a true judgment here, from my history in Ancient Greek and Latin translation, Barber seems to have done an excellent job of creating wording which will feel natural to English speakers, yet also captures that brilliance/insanity of Artaud’s wording. Barber’s contributions are rounded-out with an Afterword, which was very helpful for me, in understanding the greater context of this work. He has also provided notes throughout the book, making it a potent resource for English reading scholars on the topic of Antonin Artaud.

We won’t all get the full appreciation immediately from this work. As I mentioned before, Antonin Artaud is a complex man, one that worked in a variety of different creative fields, and left his mark on more than one of them. But this is a wonderful place to get into his works for the first time. Having this version of Artaud in mind as I dug much deeper into his legacy, it made for a more interesting journey, similar to the “in media res” (into the middle of things) situation, I would equate my experience with a movie starting in the action of some later scene, then taking you back to the beginnings to explain the lead-up to this event. With that said, I would highly recommend Artaud 1937 Apocalypse to die-hard lovers of Artaud. But, it will also be an enlightening work for those new to Artaud, and possibly the catalyst for a greater journey into the works of Artaud and/or his friends, such as André Breton, in the surrealist movement. The physical book is a delight to witness and the content within is no less appealing.

Review written by: Michael Barnett

Book design by Karolina Urbaniak

Mortiis – Secrets of my Kingdom: Return… – Review

Author: Mortiis
Book: Secrets of My Kingdom: Return to Dimensions Unknown
Release date: March 2018
Publisher: Cult Never Dies / Crypt Publications

Mortiis is a name that needs little introduction in the dark ambient community. His work on Cold Meat Industry in the 1990s helped to spawn a new genre, which he called dark dungeon music at the time. What was once a light scattering of artists creating music in this style has, over the past few years, turned into a blooming community of eager artists and listeners. These sounds have slowly been re-labeled as dungeon synth.

After years of keeping distance between his Era 1 sound and his current industrial rock sound, Mortiis has recently reexamined his Era 1 material. Understanding its impact and realizing its value to the dungeon synth community Mortiis has since started the process of re-releasing all material from that first era. New vinyl and cassette editions have been crafted for his Era 1 releases. All these vinyl editions have had their cover-art reimagined by David Thiérrée.

Secrets of My Kingdom: Return To Dimensions Unknown is the final element in the re-invigoration of Mortiis‘ Era 1. The first edition, originally titled just Secrets of My Kingdom, was released in 2001 on Earache Records in a limited leather-bound edition of 850 copies. By that time Era 1 was becoming a fading memory for him, and The Smell of Rain was driving him into new and uncharted territory. Nonetheless, those 850 copies found homes. Since that time, the book has continued a life of its own in the second-hand trading/selling world. Through this year, especially with the recent bloom of interest in Dungeon Synth, the original book was easily selling for $150+ in the used book and band merch markets. With all this excitement around the world about dungeon synth, multiple featured Bandcamp Daily articles, exponentially growing Facebook groups and message boards, high quality new record labels being established, Mortiis decided to reexamine this book to see if it still had potential and relevance 15 years on. Deeming its pages worth discovery by this new dungeon synth community, Mortiis went about the process of updating and re-releasing the book.

For those familiar with the original version, everything you may have liked about the content will still be intact. All the original illustrations by Juha Vuorma and Mark Riddick have been retained, as well as all the original text. But this edition has been expanded in many ways. Readers will immediately recognize the new, aforementioned cover-art by David Thiérrée. The book starts with some reflections on the original book and it’s re-imagining, before jumping right into the original material. This is then followed, starting on page 154, with a large section of original notes, handwritten lyrics, and unused texts. These are all direct photocopies of the original texts/sketches, and they are given explanation where needed for context. There is then an extensive interview with Mortiis, covering many topics related to his Era 1 work and its legacy. There are also interviews with artists Juha Vuorma, Mark Riddick, and David Thiérrée; as well as Mortiis‘ contemporaries Forgotten Kingdoms, Balrog, Chaucerian Myth, Proscriptor of Equimanthorn and Absu, Tomas Pettersson of Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio, and finally Albert Mudrian of Decibel magazine. The book closes with 26 illustrations by David Thiérrée which are based on the texts in the book, and were used for select Mortiis performances in 2017.

I didn’t truly appreciate the Era 1 work of Mortiis until well passed it’s prime. Like many, I didn’t fully discover dungeon synth until this most recent boom in popularity. Then, like so many others, I began working backward, discovering the material which has found such a warm place in the hearts of Mortiis fans for over two decades. Even Mortiis had to go back and sort of rediscover/reevaluate his own material, after so many years of disregarding Era 1. Whether you believe Mortiis sincerely returned to Era 1 out of a genuine longing to revisit his roots or, alternatively, you think this is all an opportunity for a cash grab, I don’t think this issue should matter too much to those genuine fans of Era 1 Mortiis. My opinion is that he is being genuine and is very pleased to see such renewed interest in his early work. But even if he isn’t being genuine, we cannot deny that it is wonderful to have access to new cassette and vinyl editions of some of his classic albums. A new edition of Secrets of My Kingdom will be very welcome to newer Mortiis fans that discovered the original book, but found that they could not possibly afford to curate a copy for themselves. It will also be welcome to any longtime fans that may have sold, lost, or destroyed their original edition, and have since had a longing for its return.

Critically, Secrets of My Kingdom: Return To Dimensions Unknown has its ups and downs. The original text by Mortiis isn’t necessarily the most eloquent or engaging material. Reading through the poems, I’m not surprised that Mortiis continued with his music career and set this written medium aside. Nevertheless, the original text accounted for the sales of the original edition, and is the main attraction for this reissue. What Mortiis lacks in poetic technique, he makes up for in depth of content. Those that are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the greater story and framework behind Era 1 Mortiis albums will find this collection indispensable. The second positive element, and a reason I was interested in buying a copy, is the addition of context and commentary. Reading Mortiis‘ reflections on this book, years after its inception, and seeing how it has impacted others helps give new fans a better idea of Mortiis‘ history from an emotional standpoint, rather than technical. I was also very impressed with the work of David Thiérrée on the vinyl re-issues, so I was eager to see the final section of the book with his graphical interpretations of Era 1 events, characters, and scenery. I would have liked to see Thiérrée’s illustrations in a larger format, rather than two per page, but this is understandable, as Thiérrée likely intends to sell these works as original art and so his section of the book should be seen more as a catalog of his Mortiis works rather than a section of full size prints, like we would expect in a proper art book dedicated to his work. In regard to the physical book itself, I haven’t held the original, but I gather that the original leather-bound edition may have looked a bit nicer than this new – hardcover but not leather-bound – edition. Of course, this can be easily explained away by a preference for availability over obsession with quality. The fact is that a second leather-bound edition likely wouldn’t have seen as many copies manufactured, and would also have cost a good deal more to purchase.

I would recommend this edition to any true fans of Mortiis‘ Era 1 material. There is a wonderful array of material to enjoy here. Even if you have already read the book’s original text, this new edition comes with so much extra material that it should still be worth the purchase price. I haven’t sat down to a deep reading of the original text, but I enjoy reading a few passages here and there, especially while listening to his Era 1 material. The large sections dedicated to interviews are really helpful for giving older fans a look at Mortiis current mindset on Era 1, but they also give the younger fans a deep look at where Mortiis fits into the great world of music. If all this sounds enticing, then I highly recommend Secrets of My Kingdom, but if you are likely to feel that the original text isn’t up to par, and also don’t care much for the added insights, then I would recommend you stick to books by authors that have dedicated their lives to creating fiction. This is, undeniably, a book for the dungeon synth community.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Bonini Bulga – Sealed – Review

Artist: Bonini Bulga
Album: Sealed
Release date: 21 June 2017
Label: Hypnagoga Press

01. Each Named
02. By A Higher Thought
03. Each With Six Wings
04. Becoming
05. Sealed As One

Bonini Bulga is the latest manifestation from the enigmatic mind of Pär Boström. While the symbolism of the album seems to draw allegories to both himself and his sister Åsa, the music was solely created by Pär. Bonini Bulga is the most subtle project yet from Pär Boström, the man behind the lauded project Kammarheit as well as Cities Last Broadcast and his other recent output, Altarmang, along with Kenneth Hansson. We also can not forget to mention the brilliant launch album on Hypnagoga Press, Orgelhuset by Hymnambulae, the collaboration with his sister and equal in Hypnagoga Press.

If this introduction to the works of Pär Boström seems a bit dizzying, it is understandable, as he has literally exploded with creativity over the last few years. But for those of us that are huge fans of his sparse but fantastic output over the last 15+/- years, this new spurt of energy and output is nothing short of a revelation.

Bonini Bulga is a hypnotic experience. A subdued collection of tracks which rely heavily on various hardware to create their strange, otherworldly soundscapes. Tape loops make up much of its foundation. The loops having been connected to various equipment, like effects foot pedals and other machinery, take on a dark and mystical quality. The darkness of the album predominately comes in the form of this odd, mystical structure. Yet, there is a pronounced darkness which occasionally rears its daemonic head. “Becoming”, which is my favorite track from the album, seems to be the climax, it brings whatever has been lurking in the shadows out into the open.

The album offers us hints at its meanings in a variety of ways. For example, each of the track titles can be read together to form one coherent statement: Each named by a higher thought, each with six wings, becoming sealed as one. The mythical and religious elements presented are clearly intended to build the foundation for the work. We can also read the passage that accompanies the album to understand more of its purpose:

”Beyond theophany and behind revelation, they arrived. Bonini and Bulga. An unlikely manifestation, of being and unbeing.

They stood there. They bowed and they bent the room they had entered.

Behind the Hierophant’s mask, Bonini, with the power to know, to shift and to unveil. The paths of hidden light and eclipses turning inward. A cowled head, overlooking thought.

Behind the mask of the Other, Bulga, with the power to create, to root and to merge. All shapes there to inhabit, all geometries there to unfold. A crowned head, overlooking process.

And they sang. Sealed as one.”

I interpret this as connecting Pär to Bonini, his work often coming in spurts of creative productivity. Much of his inspiration and direction coming from the dream world. To connect it to literature, I see him as someone like Randolph Carter from H.P. Lovecraft‘s Dream Cycle. He visits these strange beings and places in these furtive dream worlds and brings them back to us, puts thought to vision and sound, often depicting strange creatures and mystical dilapidated vaults, underworld kingdoms of ancient beauty.

Åsa Boström corresponds with Bulga. She is the mediator. Taking the so-called “geometry” and making sense of it, giving it form, purpose and direction. Restoring the ruins of ancient peoples to life, more directly a second life, a rebirth. She “roots” the meaning out of the complex visions, “merges” the uninhabited dream kingdoms with the real world. In so far as Hypnagoga Press is concerned, we have still only seen hints of the potential that she brings to the label. As the months and years progress, we will surely see much more of her direct input and influence surfacing in upcoming projects.

This is part of why The Solar Zine no.3 is so important and interesting. It literally draws a map of the future endeavors of these two visionaries. We know Kammarheit “the city, the catacombs, the mountains”, Hymnambulae “the desert and the organ house” as well as several of these other locations on the map. But, we are also given the opportunity to guess at the other upcoming works and visions of the siblings. What lies ahead for The Seafarer “the lighthouse”, or The Astronomer’s Garden “the observatory”. Then we have locations like Kalsamenen and Insomniska which give us no real hints at their purpose or how they will manifest themselves.

It seems that the coming years will be ripe with output from Hypnagoga Press. Whether this will continue to be the sole production base for the siblings, Pär and Åsa, or if some of these other locations hold introductions to new partnerships and collaborative output is anybody’s guess. But, if we consider what we have already seen as an indicator, we are in for one hell of a collection of works.

Written by: Michael Barnett

DARKLEAKS: The Ripper Genome – Infinity Land Press – Book Review

Authors: Jeremy Reed, Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak
Book: DARKLEAKS – The Ripper Genome
Release date: 16 April 2017
Publisher: Infinity Land Press

Infinity Land Press is continuing to prove itself to be one of the most exciting new developments in the world of book publication. Since the company’s inception a few short years ago, they have already brought together a combination of art-books and psychological treaties which firmly set them apart from anything that could be considered a normal format. The Void Ratio by Shane Levene and Karolina Urbaniak brought together photography and poetry to form a powerful picture of the life of mental destabilization matched to crippling drug addiction. Altered Balance by Jeremy Reed and Karolina Urbaniak delivered an unorthodox variation of a tribute to Coil, through the memoirs of Reed and the emotive monochrome photography of Urbaniak. The Rorschach Text by Martin Bladh showcased his brilliant use of collage in creating a narrative. Many of these elements have come together in DARKLEAKS – The Ripper Genome to form what I consider to be the best work yet by Infinity Land Press. Bladh, Reed and Urbaniak bring to the project their own unique talents forming a powerful portal which transports readers throughout landscapes and thoughtscapes to help us understand the inner workings of this so-called ‘ripper genome’, the tendency throughout recent history for various people to share in a sort of template which draws them toward murder as an art form or even a religious rite in some instances.

As explained by Stephen Barber in the introduction, Reed and Bladh both perform their own sort of ‘cuts’ throughout the book, bringing their work in harmony with the knife work of Jack the Ripper. As they narrate stories bringing other figures throughout history into the context of a sort of split personality disorder, believing or disbelieving themselves to be Jack the Ripper reincarnated, they are in essence becoming part of the story themselves, taking on the murderous knife work of Jack the Ripper through their own media. Jeremy Reed makes ‘cuts’ into various times of history, embodying historical figures such as Burroughs, Baudelaire and Sickert. While Martin Bladh’s cuts are even more literal. Martin uses the scalpel to cut the pieces for his collages which at times bring the faces of two or three different men together, as if drawing them all into a set narrative. For me, the most frightening example of this was toward the end of the book where he combines Aleister Crowley, Anthony Hardy and the physician who was believed to be Jack the Ripper himself, adorning the right page. With the clippings from three articles detailing the works of these three men on its opposite. The combination is a fitting example of the way this entire book works. We are given snippets, flashbacks and narrated accounts of the thoughts and desires of so many different people throughout recent history, since the time of Jack the Ripper. This amalgamation of swirling narratives comes together to form a picture of this ‘ripper genome’, this hardwiring of the brain in some people which naturally inclines it toward these savage deeds.

Reed moves between the narratives of the victim, the killer, and random figures who aren’t sure if they are the killer or not, as well as people who glorify the killings. The story of Brother Martin (pg102) combines a little of all these elements. It takes the perspective of the victim, as the killer excitedly tells her the supposed old tale of a Brother Martin who killed many people, including his sister. She is spooked and leaves, having nightmares about the man. A few days later he finds her in the streets, exclaims that he is Brother Martin as he murders her.

Sometimes Reed will only focus on the atmosphere of the London streets, always coming back to the presence of a thick fog. He uses colors, emotions, disjointed narratives and allegories to bring the reader stumbling toward an understanding of the whole theme. To add even more complexity, and often disorientation to the mix, Reed hops from prose to poetry and back again. Some tales from the view of our modern times, others taking place in the late 1800s – early 1900s.

Reed moves for a section through the streets of London, blinded by fog from the Thames. He recollects a conversation with Sleazy of Coil, they reminisce about Balance, alcoholic turned visionary. About how they created music which recollected their time travels, rather than trying to induce them for the listener. Sleazy relates a story about how him and Balance had witnessed the Jack the Ripper murders in a mushroom-induced interpersonal vision. The killer was Michael Maybrick, they concluded, a sort of celebrity/pop star in his time.

We find out, through various newspaper and magazine clippings toward the end of the book, much of what we may have been missing throughout the narrative. For example, we find that, “After the stroke Sickert would have ‘ripper periods’ in which he would dress up like the murderer and walk about like that for weeks on end.” Many examples could be shown of what at first seems to be random, disjointed snippets later proving to be crucial elements of the whole.

Martin Bladh takes on a more direct form with his writings. Each piece of text is accompanied by a collage… or vice-versa. The text is most often an imagined or real note written by a murderer to the police. Taking on the persona of the killer himself, Martin uses misspelled words, archaic phrasing, and a sharp sense of humor to lure the reader into the mind of the killer. Sometimes the notes seem to be written by more than one person, is the note from the killer or is it a fake written to seem like it is by the killer? Martin makes this conundrum central to his narrative. Sometimes the killer will take on the mantle of godly vigilante, as showcased in Martin’s work ‘Good Morning Amen’ on page 109. At other times Martin will take us directly to the crime scene, with a detailed list of the wounds and positions of the murdered body. As if he is the contemporary crime scene investigator.

The last piece in this brilliant collection is only included in the Limited Edition Boxset. A six track CD brings some of the sections of DARKLEAKS to life in the form of spoken word over a dark and cinematic soundtrack. Karolina Urbaniak, on her first foray into music, produces a set of tracks which reflect the disjointed snippets of story. Her soundscapes include many field recordings. We hear footsteps, dripping waters, slashing knives and screaming victims in their death-throes. Over this backdrop the tracks are distributed between Martin Bladh and Jeremy Reed with spoken-word excerpts from the book. Bladh, also vocalist for IRM and Skin Area, takes on one of his more chilling vocal styles reading several of his notes written by the killers. While Reed recites some of the more poetic clips from his works. With the disc being full of spoken-word elements it should be looked at as its own individual addition to the set, not as a background listen when reading. Each track helps color the stories in even more detail, bringing each segment to life in a totally different format from the written words and collages.

For anyone that is already familiar with the works of Infinity Land Press, this purchase should be a no-brainer. As described above, I truly believe DARKLEAKS brings together the finest elements of each of its contributors. The years’ experience of Reed and Bladh are brought to a pinnacle on DARKLEAKS. While the experimental elements of the accompanying disc prove to be an utter success. This could be the perfect entry point for discovery of the works of Infinity Land Press, giving readers a bit of an introduction to many of the contributors to other works in their catalog of releases. DARKLEAKS is a whirlwind of emotions and contrasting styles which keep it fresh and engaging from introduction to conclusion.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Frozen In Time: Weekly News 10 April 2017

This week we see another vast list of quality releases from the dark ambient genre and its close relatives. There are also plenty of previews for upcoming albums, as well as weekly specials from a few labels and mail-order stores. Enjoy, and as always be sure to let us know if you have a new release or other pertinent information for the upcoming week! Contact: info@thisisdarkness.com

Concert Coverage and Music Videos

Ashtoreth – Listen to the live score to The Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Recorded during Frisson Acidulé festival, Paris, France on Sunday 2nd of April 2017 Photography by Anja Aerts. Listen to the full performance here.

Damballah release a new music video. “Appel au Simbi d’l’eau”, is an invocation to the Simbi Dlo, a lwa with the unpredictability and immense power of the oceans, guardian of freshwater, springs, lakes and pools and. Simbi is tellurian nature, the underworld beneath the topside world who brings Voudou Visions.

Northumbria will be performing live to celebrate the release of their new album Markland, available now on Cryo Chamber.
Nite Comfort 44 – Release Party! – Northumbria (LP release), North Atlantic Drift
Handlebar 159 Augusta Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T 2L4

Robert Rich – Documentary
“I made this short documentary to honor my friend and colleague, composer Robert Rich. It is my first film and it took a long time to complete. I hope to make it the first of many films to come, and I’m happy that Robert was it’s subject matter.”
-Dean De Benedictis aka Surface 10 (for the Fateless Flows Channel)

New Releases and Pre-orders

A Bleeding Star – releases a new single, “Ghostmachine”.

ARNWALD & Ruairi O’Baoighill release teaser for their new split on Noctivagant.

The Caretaker releases the second stage of Everywhere at the End of Time.
Everywhere at the End of Time is a 6 part album which will release one stage at a time through 2019. The theme focuses on the degenerative effects of dementia. Each stage will be released as part of a one-time purchase through Bandcamp. Each stage will also be available on vinyl. You can read my review of Stages I-II here.

Corona Barathri and Sodomic Baptism release a promo video for their upcoming split album, Womb Ov Sheol on Noctivagant.

The Howling Larsons– release a new PDF magazine.
“Thee seventh volume of thee pdf magazine from Sombre Soniks, fokussing on one of thee Projekts involved with thee label. Featuring an in depth interview by P23, photos and an exklusive unreleased komposition from thee featured Projekt.
Volume VII is dedikated to The Howling Larsons to koincide with thee CDR Digipak re-release of their Parmenides Proem this month!
++Get a FREE kopy of this Volume if you purchase a kopy of thee Parmenides Proem CDR Digipak release++ Parmenides Proem Digipak pre-order is available here.

Iron Cthulhu Apocalypse release new album.
Insatiate is the latest industrial dark ambient experience from the Denver, Colorado project.

I’ve Seen Demons release a new album.
Same is now available on attenuation circuit.

Mystified and Daniel Barbiero release a new collaboration.
Sustain The Unsustainable was formed as Daniel Barbiero sent Mystified some sound recorded with his double bass. Mystified processed these and add to them in order to create this industrial soundscape.

Ruairi O’Baoighill releases a compilation of previously unreleased tracks.
Ruairi says of the release, “Thresholds is a compilation of pre-Ruairi recordings from 7-10 years ago. (its mad to think some of these recordings are a decade old). It was a lot of fun working on this album, and getting a feeling of my headspace at the time, someone in a very weird place, with very little experience but a lot of ideas. It was also nice to see how much I’ve grown in the passing years, but also noting that limiting my ideas, to what I thought my expected output was to be, is a fools move. Theres a lot to be learned from the outright experimentation, and creativity, of the carefree past. All in all, the whole thing was massively eye opening in the most positive of ways. Circuit bending, noise, sound experiments and very uncomfortable weirdness from 2007-2010.”

Shibalba / Alone in the Hollow Garden and Nam-Khar release new split.
The digi-cd of Yang Trol Lé  is available now here.

Sun Through Eyelids release a new long-form track.
Ever Blooming was crafted for the sleepless and the spiritually lost.

Ugasanie – Releases a new compliation.
In the Breath of the Wind 2014-2017 follows in the path of Absence 2011-2014, gathering a collection of previously unreleased Ugasanie material from the noted time-frame.

Other News

David Thiérrée releases a new books and t-shirts.
Owls, Trolls & Dead King’s Skulls: The Art of David Thiérrée is the latest book from this graphic artist. Variations of two t-shirt designs are available to coincide with the book release. Both will be available on 31 May 2017 here.

Weekly Specials

Deep-Audio are offering a €5 bargain on Penjaga Insaf album Sama Sadja on 10 April through 16 April 2017. Purchase here.

Malignant Records

Today’s $5.00 special is Abjection Ritual’s Futility Rites CD. New material is in the works to be released later in the year, so here’s your chance to grab what Noise Receptor called “a highly focused and expertly crafted album” that hits “many of the hallmarks of a classic death industrial sound”. Purchase here.

Reverse Alignment
This week you have the possibillity to obtain Jarl Case 1959 – Dyatlov for a discount of 30%. Use code “yxa” when checking out to obtain the discount. Expires 14th April.

Please consider making a donation!

This Is Darkness has gone live with the help of friends and supporters. I have been disabled since 2015, due to a spinal injury. Any support that can be given is greatly appreciated. Donations will go toward the maintenance of this site as well as additional promotion to increase its reach and influence.

This Is Darkness Week in Review

Atrox PestisAtrox Pestis – Review

Atrox Pestis is the blackened dark ambient side-project of Grant Richardson, best known for his death industrial work as Gnawed. Through the Gnawed project, we are used to hearing an intricate and disturbing blend of decrepit industrial noises coming from the deep recesses and forgotten districts of his city. Richardson is known for incorporating field recordings, collected from just such places. So it wasn’t a stretch for him to branch out into the dark ambient genre for the self-titled Atrox Pestis album.
Read full review here.

The CaretakerEverywhere at the End of Time: Stages I&II – Review

Each section of Everywhere at the End of Time will focus on a different aspect of the degenerative stages of dementia. Stage I, released in 2016, focuses on the early signs of memory loss. It is bright and generally has a positive vibe. It is sort of a throwback to the heyday of the “patient”. It is a window into the fond memories and high points in life.
Stage II takes a turn to darker thoughts. It focuses on the saddened acceptance of the disease. The Caretaker begins to realize the full ramifications of his position. As his memories begin to fade and become foggy, so too does his mood become more negative.
Read full review here.

In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of
H.P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole – Book Review

Poole‘s attention to minute details, and his ability to objectively analyze Lovecraft‘s life events, gives readers the means to accept Lovecraft for his achievements as well as his flaws. Then, he gives an informed overview of the legacy of the man, through all the adaptations of his works into various entertainment media. So, in these roughly 300 pages, there is a great deal of important information for readers new to the life and writings of Lovecraft. Yet, there is also some much needed criticism of the years worth of analyses of Lovecraft as a person, giving well-read fans plenty of new information to analyze.
Read full review here.

book cover

Cracked Amber Solid by Phil Barrington – Book Review

Author: Phil Barrington
Book title: Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded}
Release date: 14 March 2017
Publisher: Barrington Arts

Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded} is the third book by Phil Barrington. In this art book, we see the faded and corrupted memories and ghosts of lives once lost. Over the better part of three decades, these photographs were collected by the author. After the revelation of this project, he left these photos outside for three whole years. Over this time the photographs were often distorted beyond recognition. Those which are still perfectly clear at least have a fade and filth of antiquity.

Cracked Amber Solid is a look at life and death, through four sections: Life, Love, Sex and Death. Throughout these sections Barrington uses collages of these images as well as often disjointed text to build a greater picture of his vision. While at first this vision may seem quite disjointed, the relevance quickly presents itself. In combining these images and texts, Barrington manages to bring out emotions in the reader which can be quite surprising and unexpected.

Barrington thanks, among others, The Caretaker in the beginning of the book. I found this immediately interesting, as one who lives for music. Not sure if this was The Caretaker musical project of Leyland Kirby, I allowed it to remain an open question as I proceeded. Moving through the book, it became abundantly clear that this was the musician in question. The use of repetitions and thoughts which fragment and distort immediately reminds of a written companion to the aural style of The Caretaker.

Much like The Caretaker, Barrington lets ideas repeat and fester throughout the publication. What seems odd and out of place at the start gradually becomes a necessary key to the overarching concepts. An example of this is the recurring mention of the girl being run over by a bus. In its first mention this seems strange, but as the book progresses toward its final section of death, the connection between random events, innocent childhoods, and that innocence slowly being lost throughout the struggle of life becomes much more obvious.

In a second comparison to The Caretaker, Barrington has used collected fragments of history, which come together as a whole. In his collages of photographs and text, he paints a vivid and altogether original picture. This is quite similar to the process Leyland Kirby uses when creating his albums, by digging through the old forgotten belongings of the deceased, finding antique records to use for his modern musical project.

Though only one section of the book is specifically dedicated to love, this seems to be an overarching idea throughout. As he often illustrates, love makes life, love is sex, and love ends in death. Though this order and concept are easily mangled by the cruel ironies of life itself. The allusion to the young girl being killed by the bus brings this cruel concept to fruition. There are many other examples presented of the ways love can manipulate and often destroy lives. For instance, it is seen in the recurring use of variations of the phrase, “When distant wedding bells chime and a noose swings.” This is a morbid and depressing comparison, but one that strikes true throughout.

As a whole, Cracked Amber Solid is a depressing piece of work. One can’t help but reminiscing back to times in their own lives, or the lives of their loved ones, when parallel circumstances presented themselves. Barrington uses this mechanic masterfully. He is able to take these disjointed and seemingly random sets of photographs and text, and bring them all together to form a powerfully moving work of art. The images themselves are quite thought provoking, if often filled with extremely vivid sexual themes. Reading this book and absorbing its imagery was certainly time well spent. As a person who is often prone to boredom when reading the works of many authors, this was never the case. Barrington has certainly showcased his talents well here. This could be an easily recommended read for anyone with a darker sense of imagination and a love for unorthodox forms of art.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Barrington‘s book, Cracked Amber Solid {Frieze of the Faded}, can be purchased in two formats: as a high-resolution pdf and as an ultra-limited hardback art-edition. These can be found on Barrington Arts webstore: http://www.barringtonarts.com/my-shop/
A free low-res version can be found here: http://ow.ly/k1Yk309M8gJ

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