Thursday, December 20, 2012

The many frightful faces of Attila Csihar

Hungarian Attila Csihar has been the front madman for a number of extreme musickal acts over the years, from Tormentor to Mayhem to SUNN O))) to Void Ov Voices. Over time his costuming has become the stuff of legend, changing and augmenting as unpredictably and as jarringly as his demented voice. Often even fans themselves are bewildered and affronted by these disguises. There are plenty of stories of angry fans pissed off that Attila would dare perform Mayhem's live vocals while wearing an Easter Bunny outfit. Usually though people don't know what the hell he is wearing. He creates all of these himself, employing a number of different methods and materials and generally ending up with confusing and other worldly results. It's the confusion of these costumes that I like the most.

Bjork's Vespertine

Vespertine is an important record for me and one that I associate specifically with Winter. I listen to it at least once around this time of year, every year and last night happened to be the time, this time. I decided today to post some visual companions to this gorgeous musickal vision. I am a fan of Bjork in general but this... this is something special.
The topmost video is a complete live performance from the Vespertine-era tour captured at the Royal Opera House. All the rest comprise a sequential documentary about the album itself. 

El Cant de la Sibil-La

Bette Burgoyne  recently introduced me to El Cant de la Sibil-La and boy am I glad she did!
"The Song of the Sibyl" is an apocalyptic gregorian chant, a vast and sad liturgical drama. It has apparently been performed on Christmas Eve almost uninterruptedly since Medieval times in certain Majorca, Alghero and Catalan Churches.
It is a musical end time prophecy.
There have been numerous versions of this music throughout time. It began as a poem before taking on Gregorian melody and moving through several lingual interpretations. I hardly have the knowledge to enumerate all of these progressions here as they baffle me with their complexity. At one point it was even put down by the Council of Trent as much too dangerous and unpleasant in it's connotations. But this powerful force simply could not be quelled and it showed up on the island of Majorca not long afterward and has been traditionally embraced ever since, more or less.
The song is conceptually supposed to be sung by a woman (a "Sybil" is a prophetess) but has more often than not throughout history been sung by a little boy. This was originally due to the fact that women were ludicrously disallowed from singing in Church for a great many years.
These days it is still performed by boys often, though the female voice has taken it's rightful place at the melodic helm on a few special recordings. Particularly, it seems, on the copy that Bette sent me- put together by Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras in 1988. (one cover image pictured above) I believe this recording contains all the presently known versions. 
I didn't put it together until later that one of my favorite singers Lisa Gerrard took a stab at a section of the work as well on the Dead Can Dance album Aion.
During live performance in  Church, the entire song cycle is to be sung while holding an erect sword. Upon completion, the sword is used to slash a cross into the very air itself.
About these performances I can only wonder, but the music on the above recording is profoundly sad. There is a very strange crossroad in the heart where sadness and beauty either reconcile or conspire. This music sounds exceptionally old. It sounds like the completion of an echo that has been gradually ringing toward my ear drums for hundreds and hundreds of years now.


A very Merry Christmas from Secret Lexicon.

Forever Asleep

Scientists examine a 15-year-old girl who lived in the Inca Empire, then was sacrificed and remained frozen for 500 years….
Unearthed in 1999 from the 22,000-foot summit of Mount Llullaillaco, a volcano 300 miles west of here near the Chilean border, their frozen bodies were among the best preserved mummies ever found, with internal organs intact, blood still present in the heart and lungs, and skin and facial features mostly unscathed. No special effort had been made to preserve them. The cold and the dry, thin air did all the work. They froze to death as they slept, and 500 years later still looked like sleeping children, not mummies.

Reblogged from Ras Puma

Good times with Andy Wyeth

"I prefer Winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of Winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."
-Andrew Wyeth

It's the time of year when sooner or later I am reminded of these paintings, this kind of vision.
Andrew Wyeth spent much of his life moving back and forth between Pennsylvania and my homeland, Maine. And so, being the continually occasional Mainer myself, I feel a particular draw toward the landscapes, seasonal evocations & stark substance of these canvases.
For those who don't know, the Wyeth family represents a legacy of great artwork. Beginning with the masterful storybook illustrations of Howard Pyle - his mentoring of and bequeathment of craft down to N. C. Wyeth - and on to his son, our present hero, and finally on to his son, James Wyeth.

(Incidentally, a lot of stuff by Pyle and N.C., can be found at Golden Age Comic Book Stories.)

My family and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a number of work by this entire clan at the Wondrous Strange exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum's Wyeth Center in Rockland, Maine back in 1998.
It was totally thrilling to see work by all these gentlemen "in the paint". It really stayed with me. Especially the stuff by Andrew. 

Look at this face: