Film Reviews

Nobody Studies Happiness: Ghosts And Madness On The Mountain In A Brief Review Of The Shining

PosterCharles Olson’s gone. But some few years ago, there he was. Saw his mother and she was in a chair as he remembered her when she was alive. I remember that in a poem of his. Once he wrote, “Nobody studies / happiness,” and here I am with that, too. —Stanley Kubrick: Like he said, Kubrick: “Real is good; interesting is better.” Nobody studies happiness: The Shining (1980).

Jack Torrance pounds his life out the typewriter keys. Luck isn’t. Wendy and Danny, the wife, the son. New world here at the Overlook Hotel. New and strangely familiar journey up the dark and beautiful mountains. We know where we’re going but we don’t know why it’s familiar. Life on high and ghosts, too, like anywhere else. Only, the ghosts here can touch, can speak, can move and strike and open the doors to rooms where the future is closed.

Bathroom

What was it? Who was it? Feel my mind burning cold under the snow banks of this film—the atmosphere, it’s as heavy as the snow and wide as the bottom below; it induces one to feel severely restricted, and it will suffocate one as it suffocates characters and viewers in tandem with rot-gore images sourced from the unforgettable redrum flood. To be a guest here is to remember Home, to know Home, and what’s more, to yearn for it. I’m displaced in a pure void, writing to you from a place founded on Manifest Sickness. I don’t know anything but that I have to tell to find a way out.

Overlook

I’m typing along to the great piano captured, like a film, like anyone watching The Shining. On this recording, titled Windmills, Lubomyr Melnyk’s hands just go, and I mean go; the dream-charged composition blown up by a power that rages and caresses, like fathers, like wind, blown up, blown out, clearing dead leaves of thought between the ears—what an album to try and think to! What an enigmatic film to try and write about! Invisible force, palpable power—what a rush! Windmills even at the danger of writing to you like so many do, swept away in the rush of what they’re hearing on high.

Of course, when it comes to music and The Shining, one can’t help but think of Berlioz with his Symphonie Fantastique. So full a hum in the thick of the throat, is that dense, bone-deep blow of the funereal “Songe d’une nuit du sabbat” (Dream of the Night of the Sabbath), which is about as frigid of a melody I can recall. Yet the heat of the dance, the movement of the witches, ghouls, the monsters, shades, bells and the brush-fire of the evening beneath a night of horror that looks like any other night—just the black, and the objects and that energy that drives and drives until we see and feel the fire out, the power shot forth, gone. What depth of hopelessness is that? And what could be more fitting a piece in this film?

—Well, the rush and the rage and the force, they are fathers in this story. They live here, as the ghosts do, residentially, above one of Stephen King’s fave’s: an old Indian burial ground.

Party Time

Horror loved Kubrick. Horror loves King, too. But King doesn’t love The Shining because Kubrick was the greater artist, and The Shining belongs to Kubrick now, est. 1980. When you’ve seen the film, you’ll know.

Yes, Jack—the character; not the character that is Jack Nicholson as Jack Nicholson, but the character that is Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. What a character! Nicholson’s performance, at times over-the-top, yet captured, and never out of place; a fine, walk-on-the-line-of-losing-it, trapeze over the abyss, performance; all those legendary takes en repeat per Kubrick helping not a little. Likewise for Scatman Crothers (Dick Hallorann), Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrence) and Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrance)—what endurance! [See DVD and Blu-ray and YouTube and others of the heavyweight media et cetera for info and explanatory notes regarding Kubrick’s much discussed quantity of takes. Or, summarily: REHEARSALS ARE A WASTE OF TIME!].

Jack Mad (2)

What else? Well . . .

Jack doesn’t love Wendy.
Not like poetry loved Verlaine.
Jack loves Wendy like Jack hates Jack.
Jack hates Jack never finishing projects;
hates Jack with nowhere to go and the time short
and tight like the noose between his eyes;
hates Jack like settling into soft leather
with a copy of Playgirl,
waiting for Ullman, his wife and son to find him
in a lobby at the end of things;
hates Jack like Danny
overthrowing an existence Jack hates
without promise, without even the dream of escape—
no, even in his dreams, Jack hates,
and it’s growing, violently growing:
“I dreamed I killed you and Danny . . .”;
hates Jack like he hates Jack like he hates Jack
taking odd jobs, asking for dead-end work
from men who dress like the American flag
and refer to celebrities and presidents
as “all the best people”
with hair like Kennedy's
while Jack ties green around his neck
across the beggars side of the desk,
desiring creation (veni! veni! veni!)
—hates Jack like the suit and tie
absolutely nothing behind the suit and tie
save madness and the madness
of keeping madness under woolen wraps;
hates Jack like you might Hate Jack
hunting Danny, hunched over, sick walk, sick ape,
fixated, the stare of death from madness
streaming down a riven mind imploded:
Jack.
Hates.

Monocaine

Who slipped monocaine into this man’s bourbon? Jack Griffin. Jack Torrance. Disappearing act—where is Torrance? Wherever Johnny is . . . . What horror is this when alone at the top of the mountain, man can finally know what it all was, what is and what isn’t, and do, finally, what one’s entire life has brought him to? I cannot actually tell what Kubrick shows.

The Shining has it all. But don’t try and write about it. The ghosts that bully reason were kin to Kubrick, and they will come for you if you do. It’s all there. Go and see. Don’t be late.


This review was originally published by, FROM THE PROJECTION ROOM, film blog of THE WINCHESTER FILM CLUB.

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Film Reviews

You Should Have Listened: A Review Of The Hallow

Hallow PosterOh yes, The Hallow (2015). Your ticket read, The Woods. So call it, The Woods, if you please. Both are C+’s from IFC Midnight. So come on, then.

This film feels how it looks. We start bright with all of the promise sunshine can offer one taking the ferry to a new life. Good god it is bright and warm under such a hot coin; that boat keeps it moving and we’re ex-patriots, yes, and travelling to Ireland where director Corin Hardy’s story of Adam, Clare (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic) and their baby son, takes its seedy root.

Banger house with barred windows. A mill house all sag and chips. Signs of long life: rust, bad wood eaten up and miles and miles and miles (and miles) of lush green forest—this is what Adam and Clare wanted, likely dreamed of, when cramped in London town locked away in another story. But they’re here, now: Ireland; and windows barred with iron by previous owners make not a difference, spark not even a sand grain of concern regarding their most recent happiness. Take a ferry to a new life. Gone. Bright white and blinds like romanticism.

Irish Countryside (2)

[Oh, by the way, the dogs name is, Iggy. Which could be close to funny if you think about those Stooges, those musical Stooges. Now, back to it].

Adam and Iggy walk the forest, look the trees, examine the trees, connect with the trees. Nothing doing while this sleepy picture crawls its frame. Nothing even really cinematic until the music turns guide, directs the viewer how to perceive the dead and rotting deer carcass Adam and Iggy uncover on their trek—the ominous now known with black, viscous blood, the wild hair and rotting flesh hammering the message of the stomach-turning sight home. Romantic fade. Dark notes and tones.

Iggy Bite

Adam’s a scientist; concerns concerning forestry and the health of trees concern him greatly, and if you were to imagine that this now known piece of information inspired his budding family’s move, well, you’d likely be on to something: He’s going to save it!—What’s it, you ask? The tree!, of course. Adam’s going to save the tree!

All well and good; but, what is it, how is it, this understanding, Adam’s understanding of trees? Where does it come from? What shaped it? What’s really beneath this microscope? What did Adam touch with his bare hands before England, Mum, textbooks and tradition touched and bound him? And what can he bring now, a man out of bounds from multiple views, to this saving mission?

Yeah, who knows? But by the looks of it, Adam’s dallying in the dense and hallowed forests of Ireland look to be the start of a great lesson for him. Just a shame he has a family in tow, for what will they reap? For, when real and supreme ignorance couple with a lack of noble understanding, a greater price than tuition must be paid; this comes, is shown, and that brings the horror down like a pissed off Chatterton writing, “For how can idiots, destitute of thought, / Conceive or estimate, but as they’re taught?”. —Forgive the end-rhyme, for he was only human.

Clare and Baby (2)

Creatures closely resembling little Pumpkinheads thieve babies in the night. You already know what Adam and Clara have . . . . For this trespassing on the Hallow (which basically constitutes living in the house Adam, Clara and the baby live in/walking in the woods, poking around, touching shit (and trees, too, of course)), Adam and Clara’s baby is declared a recompense. In the folklore, this event is already known. Not specifically, of course, with reference to these characters, but, it is known that the Hallow will come for any and all trespassers on the sacred land.

It comes to the house, it comes in the house, moves within the walls, flops down into the crib, inhumanly reaches out to the car, mysteriously clutches and chokes out the engine, pokes for entrance into human eyes: it comes, it grows, it lives within living organisms—this is, the Hallow.

Attic Clare (600x314)

Born of unknown origin and recorded in folklore, this is the apple of existence Adam refuses to bite into, seemingly, for no other reason than that, having not been sufficiently able to account for it by a most rational and scientifically appropriate explanation, that is, supported by facts and evidence, it must simply, surely—yes, has to be—be pure nonsense.

Adam’s conviction is compounded by his increasingly odd, yet altruistic, neighbor, Colm Donnelly (Michael McElhatton), who, due to Adam’s unwillingness to lend a listening ear to him (Donnelly has suffered something awful at the hands of the Hallow and earnestly cautions against the actions of Adam that are, in his mind, eventually leading him down that very same path), eventually bursts with that beloved and often parodied line that unites so many horror films with but a itty-bitty mouthful of painfully truthful words. Yes, that’s right, it’s the “you should have listened” line: YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED! And on and on and on into that bloody tradition.

Pumpkinhead (700x394)

Well, Adam should’ve listened. And hey, you know what, Clare should’ve listened, too. Especially when Donnelly broke into their home and dropped off his fancy fairy tale book. Shoulda listened. Here come the little pumpkinheads now, the pangs of suffering and mostly nothing else . . . . Oh, a touching recognition of loss in a scene of awakening with Clare holding her baby . . . then, the nothing else from here on out.

If you’re a teenager at home, expecting friends, rifling through your satellite search results and looking for a “good one” for the late night, sure, add The Hallow to your list. But if you’re going to the theatre, something else is being shown . . . . Or else . . . . YOU. SHOULD. HAVE. LISTENED!


This review was originally published by, FROM THE PROJECTION ROOM, film blog of THE WINCHESTER FILM CLUB.

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Music Reviews

Green Rocky Road, by Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton - Green Rocky RoadLike the swans of Socrates singing for the joy of cutting their corporeal ties, Karen Dalton too sang herself smiling softly into some kind of easeful, transitive state. While performing, the singer often retreated inwardly behind closed eyelids, leaving her audience spellbound by the quiet, sustained rapture that was her voice.

Dalton was one with a voice so captivating others felt it incumbent upon them to commit her vocals to record, despite her oftentimes ardent protestations, ever championing the act of crafting her art over that of preserving it; one whose voice could wrap up a suffering listener with the mollifying impression of warmth and understanding; one who with song conjured woebegone souls blighted by human cruelties like unrequited love, shipwrecked friendship foundering in the swells of misunderstanding, failure to achieve one’s chief desire and any other festering et cetera that might bog one down deeply.

In short, Dalton evoked despondency, alchemized it in the act of singing, sang the blues—and she did so with such moving power that twenty years after her death, as well as over fifty years since she began singing in front of audiences, listeners are still hunting her recordings and searching for unreleased gems bearing her inimitable imprint.

Like the rest of us, Dalton wasn’t here for very long. Despite the steadily increasing appetite now for what little recording she did decades ago, Dalton did not leave posterity a name that would garner much attention when she died on the streets of New York City in the winter of 1993. Considered largely under-heard even now, Dalton was, in the early 1960’s, far less recognized for her indubitable talents—amongst the public, that is.

You might know her for her influence on other artists, particularly those who bear the glow of fame, like Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Lenny Kaye, all of which sing her praises and commend her influence on their creative output. Dalton was no stranger to her contemporary fellow singers and songwriters as well, these too not failing to commend her artistry with words of reverent affection, or, as in the case of Fred Neil, some curt and truthful words of simplicity: “Her voice is so unique that to describe it would take a poet. All I can say is that she sure can sing the shit out of the blues,” said Neil, whose song, “Blues On The Ceiling,” a staple in Dalton’s set, is known largely for her unique rendition of it.

While she roamed the West coast (Colorado and California in particular), performing the songs she would later be praised for making her own—“Katie Cruel,” “Ribbon Bow,” “Green Rocky Road,” “In the Evening,” amongst others—Dalton attracted a stellar reputation amidst singers, songwriters, and listeners alike. These included David Crosby, Dick Weissman (The Journeymen), and Joe Loop (co-owner of infamous folk club The Attic), who respected Dalton not only for her talent for interpreting the songs of others—Fred Neil, Huddie Ledbetter, Ray Charles, Jelly Roll Morton and Booker T. Jones, just to name a few—but also for who she was: a strong-minded, caring woman who abhorred overt ignorance, be it directed towards herself or those in her protective company. “Sweet Mother K.D.” they called her.

“My mother was the kind of woman who would scream at bank tellers” recalls Dalton’s daughter, Abralyn Baird, in an interview with NPR, calling attention perhaps to a quick temper fueled by a domineering will rarely challenged, but when challenged, strongly resistant to what she perceived wrong or untruthful.

Peter Stampfel (The Holy Modal Rounders), in an essay composed for the CD re-release of Dalton’s first “proper” album, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You Best (1969), reminisces about Dalton’s protectiveness exemplified by her standing up to unwarranted cruelty in the form of noxious thrill-seekers chasing down both she and a friend (on horseback) with a car. Stampfel writes: “Karen picked up a small tree branch and took off on horseback hell-for-leather in pursuit of the car, which she forced to a halt by beating on its windshield with her branch . . . Karen made the driver get out and apologize.”

Musically, Dalton’s aesthetic often matched that of her personality. She was never wholly comfortable performing on stage, refusing even to leave her dressing room for a string of European tour dates during the latter half of her singing career in support of her second and final studio album, In My Own Time (1971)—a horrendous experience for both she and the musicians journeying with her.

Though the virago side of Dalton, when present, was many times enflamed by her alcohol and drug use, friends and contemporaries recall in her essentially a strikingly beautiful, lithe woman of granite presence and mysteriousness who could render an audience attentive by the sheer dominance of her mesmerizing voice and delicate finger-picking style, but, conversely, one who, despite the surface appearance of masterful ease and felicity, preferred not to be where she was—on stage.

Stampfel remembers Dalton describing her ideal venue as one to match that of her intrinsic comfort created and sustained while jamming with friends—her living room, a place of warmth where “[s]he could just play music . . . and (magically) there would be a large audience, rapt, silent, and enthralled, which Karen could then totally ignore.” This marked adversity to the stage carried over tenfold to the recording studio, where too many hands in the deal manipulating her sound fueled her uncomfortable and boisterous mien. As Baird recalls, “She wanted to have her sound . . . That’s what they told her they wanted to hear, and then she’d get in the studio, and they’re like, ‘Well, we’ll just add a couple tracks to this.’ And she’s like, ‘No.’ She’d get furious.”

Years before Dalton even entered the studio, came the precursory Green Rocky Road (2008), officially released some forty-five years after its making in 2008. Green Rocky Road was recorded privately by Dalton and her close friend, Joe Loop, while ensconced in a cottage in Boulder, CO in 1962/1963; it’s a home-made record recorded on two tracks with Dalton picking banjo and playing guitar on every one except “In the Evening,” in which fellow musician Richard Tucker plays guitar. The song selection constitutes those Dalton made essential in her set, songs centering on the suffering female characters her voice brought to life in “Katie Cruel,” “Little Margaret,” and “Ribbon Bow.”

With consideration of the fact that Dalton never gave interviews about her work and/or artistic principles, alongside her choice to record independently, it would appear that Green Rocky Road was the album Dalton yearned to make—one entirely on her own terms, in her own way.

Green Rocky Road presents a side of Dalton even lesser known than what’s captured on It’s So Hard . . . and In My Own Time. Heard here is the living-room intimacy and inspiring passion of musicality that moved Dalton to sing in the first place, as she sings the songs of those who came before her, bearing tradition in her own distinctive way with a new voice demonstrative and intuitively brilliant.

Rife with interruption (a ringing phone; guest appearances—Dalton holds a conversation with her mother, Evelyn Cariker, before beginning “In the Evening”—) and glitches of faulty, makeshift recording equipment, Green Rocky Road is by no means a “proper” record, but, arguably, it is for that reason alone that it is so special in the handful of recordings left behind from this incredibly talented and inspiring singer. It’s as close to comfort as Dalton ever got with us being in the room while she sang.

Light In the Attic Records

Delmore Recording Society

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Raw Power Live: In The Hands Of The Fans, by Iggy And The Stooges

CoverOkay, so you want an explanation. “Yeah, Iggy Pop, but what’s Raw Power?! Who are Iggy And The Stooges?” you ask.

Iggy And The Stooges are (mark this tense, and ask yourself how many rock and roll bands from the 60’s and 70’s can not only unite again for a present-day show, but absolutely destroy the stage as they did in their blooming youth) progenitors of raucous, energetic rock and roll, and awe-inspiring, life-changing live performances. The Stooges are a powerhouse of collective energy so strong, that by 1974, (at their creative peak), there simply wasn’t a musical partition left their forces hadn’t entirely demolished.

Iggy And The Stooges are a seminal rock group that emerged formidably in the late 1960’s. From the beginning, they shocked audiences with the likes of their homemade instruments, like blenders inside of microphones, oil dregs used for percussion, and spiked golf shoes employed for dancing on sheet metal with panache like an inspired shaman on hot coals.

Beyond their captivating stage presence and gnarled sound, The Stooges—namely Pop—are remembered for their extemporaneous stage antics (Pop’s patented “stage diving” being paramount) and other primitively inspired dance moves fired by the inveterate beseeching of the hearts of young men—those who climb the divine with the notes of the electric guitar coursing through their blood, refusing to fall from the sound until the song is through. For The Stooges, the song was/is never through. It just evolves.pic01 (389x500)

[Hold your tongue. This isn’t prolix, it’s The Stooges—a band so energetic, so powerful, and so very overwhelming at once, that language does lag and ultimately falter in explanation.]

By 1974, The Stooges walked away from the mayhem and subsequent “proto-punk” genre they fathered on stage and in the studio, leaving behind three immensely influential LP’s: The Stooges (1969), Fun House (1970)and Raw Power (1973), and nearly a decade’s worth of bloody memories at various gigs around the United States and England—bedlam left for legend.

In fact, just one show in England, at the infamous King’s Cross Cinema, in 1972, was enough to incite a few kids in attendance to break with what they knew and forge out into a burgeoning unknown of pure, intransigent rock and roll danger. That is, from the inspirational melee detonated on this audience, in the wake of this performance, The Sex Pistols and The Clash would be formed. So the legend evolves . . . .

[Perhaps by reading all of this you’ve begun to grasp the importance of The Stooges in recent music history?]

Well, you’re right. None of that truly matters. And you’re probably not here for a history lesson. This is about one night, one show. This is about a resurrection.

Despite debuting on the Billboard charts April Fool’s Day of 1969, this group is no joke; they are one of the longest lasting rock bands still creatively active, still playing today with as much, if not more energy, than they were as young men. And that might simply be because they have offered music their entire lives. Just watch and listen.

Thirty-eight years after the factafter Raw Power was released in May of 1973, The Stooges are finally being lauded as deserved. In 2010, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and with that began a two-year tour that culminated in the very performance filmed for this MDVD. On September 3rd, 2010, at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the United Kingdom, The Stooges played their monumental and most dangerous gem, Raw Power, in its entirety to fans of all ages, many of whom were not yet born when this record was released—a testament to Raw Power operating well ahead of its time, or, arguably, without time.

From the opening notes of  “Raw Power,” with Iggy already overdosing on feedback and electric fuzz, hop-dancing out on stage to a serpentine saxophone to join the rest of the band wailing in front of an audience captivated and loose for the taking, it’s lucidly clear these guys (who are all over age 50) are—in their music—forever tossed by the open hands of time immemorial, charged from the heights to deliver a frenetic coup de grâce on every stage lying before for them.

Through the medium of rock and roll, Iggy And The Stooges paint a powerful picture; their songs pulsate in the body like the contorted sufferings of El Greco’s reeling subjects—a whirling cacophony of spiritual anguish come to physical transformation of pain into beauty. The sounds of Raw Power live exude from deep within the soul of anguish and beauty, yet far from the clutches of the hourglass of mortality netting our bodies. Raw Power is in the vim of the wayward soul searching out the unknown with the aplomb of a despot. It’s energy, alive, hungry, hunting: “Raw power honey just won’t quit.”

With a history of playing every show as if it were the very last one on earth, The Stooges cannon through their Raw Power set well beyond themselves into the pith of artistic endeavor; into the creative soul constantly shaping and re-shaping forms, perpetually leaving for the yet still unknown.

The Stooges are ever getting there, playing their songs with so much force and conviction. Hear the sound tower the crowd as they build upon song after song a monument of more—never satisfied, never to quit: “Honey I’m with you, you with me. We’re going down in history.”

Look, to get to the heart of any matter, you’ve got to find a point of entry. Looking at the Stooges from the outside in 2010, you will see an aged group of indifferent looking men content with speaking through their instruments; then follows one shirtless, cavorting wild man at the helm demanding you pay attention to him, as he flails about from side to side, contorting his body in a mad melee of fleshy origami and Christ-like mystique. This is Iggy Pop, working. These are The Stooges, destroying.

By all sensorial appearances, this night was no different from any other Stooges show. They assailed with rock and roll, taking the crowd by storm, naturally, just as they always have. The stage became their roaring soundscape, etched out of James Williamson’s legendary guitar assault, Mike Watts’ viscous, pulsing bass and Scott Ashton’s eye-of-the-storm, intuitively precise and simply brilliant drumming; and it was conquered by Iggy’s fledging orchestration.

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Soft Skin, by Cosmetics

Children of the Bacchanal grow in the Garden of Love.

She’s wanting, no doe in the Debauch, playfully untying with a ballerina’s grace those knots of the bound heart, evoking an image lost and found of love that is two soft pink dancers vis-à-vis—a Queen pursuing half a heart into full-bodied symmetry.

Nico’s vocals on “Soft Skin” ravish a lush red carpet trampled by florid feet on the gilded floor of Intrigue’s ballroom—a harmony that is pure pleasure.

Dancing over Love like Death, Soft Skin (2010) sounds a wanton invitation: beats are a rubied diadem for the heart’s coronation, and the ears, they are the evening free of burden.

Dance. Rise by beats like a curved beckoning finger.

Dance to the degradation that is an age whose biggest fear is that NO ONE WILL BE WATCHING.

Dance to the beat that is one heart leaving the Self, an empty room, for Love, the ballroom of the world.

Dance a little old dance with Cosmetics.

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Hell Songs, by Daughters

Daughters are men from Providence, RI who play music with blistering speed and the feral certainty of sure-fire satyrs gone deep down the well of sickness.

Yes, the music is sick. The collective sound of Hell Songs (2006) is wholeheartedly sick, with guitars (courtesy of Nicholas Andrew Sadler and Samuel Moorehouse Walker) in unison frothing out mutilated melodies, creating violent and explosive cacophonies over stark confessions of vocalist A. S. F. Marshall’s wickedness.

“I’ve been called a sinner, evil doer, wrong doer, worker of iniquities, transgressor, a bad example, scoundrel, villain, knave … Yeah, I’ve been called a sinner” slurs out Marshall, whose vocals, rather than sung, blow out of his mouth in rapid-fire bursts, crass bellows, or, as in this case, an unsettling, slow and eerie drawl.

Also included in “Daughter’s Spelled Wrong” are these telling epithets delivered over layers of afflicted and serrated notes: “viper, wretch, the devil incarnate, fallen angel, murderer, thief, black sheep, black guard, loafer, sneak,” etc. This pounding track, portending the darkness of Hell Songs to follow, accelerates with the aid of moaning guitars destined to poison unsuspecting ears, conjuring up an image of an open wound eking out ichor from the dark life source feeding this work.

This album truly sounds the artistry of sickness.

“Recorded Inside A Pyramid” begins with a danceable, foot-tapping drum beat before the muddled, droning sound of Brent Frattini’s bass guitar reigns in the storm, triggering an irritable, violent blast of electric guitar defiance.

For these brief bursts, the reactive explosion of the guitars overrides all frequencies, and the propulsion of the song’s energy is set into motion when Marshall, storming, chimes in: “I wear my sickness like a wedding band!”

And off we go.

Amidst the raucous clash and screaming rage of the sound, Marshall squeals: “I am just a face connected to an appetite demanding self abuse / I feed myself by the handful like your kids at a petting zoo.”

“Feisty Snake Woman” finds a self-abusing speaker down and out (amidst a musical whirlwind of a breakdown, thundering notes of colossal intensity) after an all consuming sexual encounter with a seductive reptile woman down “the only path he could find”—creativity is found in manifold ways on each of Hell Song‘s cuts.

Confessions of ribaldry are ever-coming, but this time with the voice of experience approaching the tail end of the wisdom of the lost: “She’ll sell you the road but she won’t point the way home.”

Frattini’s bass line rears up after Marshall delivers his revelation, weaving in slow-motion in and out of the song like that of an entranced cobra—back and forth until the spell’s broken, until perdition. Syverson picks up the beat steady and sure, all in for catharsis, and the listener is poised to receive the next strike of vitriolic boom; when it hits, it is blustering, sweeping out the sound-scape in one sonic blast of nucleal intensity.

By the time the album approaches its final bitter notes, laden with the cries of electronically twisted guitars, Marshall’s lyrics evince one searching for clarity:

I can’t keep my eye from twitching
I can’t make sense of this
If it’s ringing in my head or in my ears I cannot tell the difference
I’m wishing I was a bit more educated.

But the search is short lived. Before the next inevitable rampage, Marshall’s creation casts all hope aside, reasoning himself incapable of curing his malady, begging instead for someone to grant him death:

Can anybody here me out there?
Put me down like a horse with a broken leg
An old dog foaming at the mouth
Tie a chain around my ankle and take me out to the blackest deepest sea
Carry me out to the town square
Put me on the guillotine.

Hell Songs is one sick, tempestuous roar, advised for adventurous ears only.

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