While Japanese ambient is a common feature of this blog, Japanese black metal is a little more of a rarity.
Which is especially absurd when you take into account Sigh – Japan’s leading weird black metal band for the past 25 years and who, on their last album, brewed up a particularly spellbinding BM take on the music of 20JFG faves Goblin and Fabio Frizzi!
“The biggest inspiration on this album is 70s / 80s Italian zombie flicks,” singer Mirai Kawashima told No Clean Singing blog. “At first I was planning to make it filled with old keyboards like Minimoog, Mellotron, Hammond, Fender Rhodes etc., as a dedication to those movies. The final result was pretty much different from the initial plan, but I think you still sense the atmosphere of zombie movies.”
Donald gazed up the gothic escarpment of the palm reader’s nose, into two shining eyes like pits of tar threatening to absorb his small, petty soul. They were sitting inside a purple tent, walls covered with astrological symbols and cryptic glyphs, in a corner of the Coney Island carnival where his dad had taken him on a hot and sticky summer night. The palm reader grabbed Donald’s tiny hand and pulled it towards her, to do the job.
She hummed and she coughed as she followed with owlish gaze the inchoate lines in Donald’s hand, watching them stretch into the horizon and curl around the fuzzy shape of things to come. And then she gasped, and she pulled herself away from Donald, and she stared at him with utter horror. Donald stared back uncomprehending, what was wrong with the funny lady?
Slowly, the palm reader regained her composure and the fearful expression in her face morphed into a mask of grim determination. She remembered the lessons from a long time ago, in a cold deep wood in a country far away. She remembered what the crone had said she should do if she ever had to face the shapeless horror. She remembered the secret name.
There was some time. With a fluid movement, she took her necklace off and wrapped it around her hand, and started swinging it in front of Donald’s petulant face, and she whispered the timeless words in a sibilant drone, and Donald’s eyes glazed over beyond their usual glazed-ness, and when he was ready, she delivered her message.
Not long after, Donald’s dad came to pick him up from the palm-reader’s tent, and they went back to their big shiny house.
Donald got on with his strange, eventful life, forgetting all about the funny lady until the early hours of one night last week, when he found himself spinning restless in his big bed, huffing and puffing and sweating, disturbed by a strange whisper inside his head. He hugged Melania but she grunted and pushed him away.
He got off the bed, pawed at the jumble of things in his sleeping table and picked up his phone, he shambled outside of the bedroom and into his office. He really needed some sleep, tomorrow was going to be a big day, he was going to show the world, he needed to be on the ball.
He decided to tweet some. That always calmed him down. He would tweet something, unwind, be lulled to sleep by the pings of his admiring followers, and the losers.
He started typing.
“Despite the constant...”
But he kept flashing-back to the regular motion of an amulet in front of his eyes, a whisper in his ears, fragments of meaning arriving from a very distant place, slowly coming together to form a vivid message.
Listen to me child, something ugly and slimy crawls inside your soul, waiting to get out. It is a powerful thing, this dumb evil inside you, and I fear that if it comes out, it will cause untold damage.
This is why I am planting this word into your head, a word to be uttered the moment before your great ignominy, a word I hope you will never have to say, for it will represent your doom and perhaps also ours. Remember this word, and when to use it. The word is…
His fingers weren’t his own any more. When the word came, they moved of their own accord, and in the screen it read:
He pressed tweet.
And then there was a moment of stillness, and Donald felt a darkness circling him, and inside that darkness something scaly coiled, and a vast yellow eye opened and focused on him. An unnamable thing had awoken after a long sleep, it sniffed the air and smelt him, his soul, the tiny simple soul of a pudgy child who just wanted to show them.
He whimpered, no please, he wasn’t bad, but the merciless thing didn’t care, it was ravenous and it was coming to get him. He heard leathery wings unfurling, and he glimpsed the snake thing breaking out of the darkness, beginning its long journey from the vast emptiness where it had slept for aeons, coming for him, to feast on his soul and his flesh and sate its unending hunger.
He shrieked and he fainted over his desk, toppling a pile of papers, and down on the floor.
Two bodyguards ran into the room and stared at the scene. A big pile of Donald lying there, drooling, dishevelled, messy. Not that different from most nights, although the pallor of his face, his distorted grimace, the pool of urine spreading from under his body gave them pause. A bit worse than most nights, oh well.
They picked Donald up and carried him to the toilet, to clean him up and back to bed.
And all this time, the beast came. It is still on the way.
Adamennon’s new (imaginary?) soundtrack for Le Nove Ombre Del Caos is almost unbearably banging, a celebration of all that’s baroque, grotesque heavy and powerful. It soars with dark Italian flair above a William Blake-esque carnival of whirling shadows, sulphuric smells and raging satanic shapes. This is a very different kind of malignity from the drab, mediocre, dumb evil in which some of our political leaders specialise of late, and we will take it every time. If Goblin had replaced Led Zeppelin and P Diddy to create the soundtrack for Godzilla, it would have sounded like Dalle fauci al ventre della belva nera.
Giusto Pio’s Motore Immobile is an isolation chamber where we hear the drone of an alarm that started ringing at the birth of the universe.
We enter a special Stapledon state of cosmic reverie where every sound – piano and violin, voices transformed like Holly Herndon’s Dilato dreaming in stasis, in a generation ship headed for Alfa Centauri – represents a milestone in the emergence of life, intelligence and conscience, stages in a journey that unfolds at a pace our senses can only perceive when augmented with tools like this, exotic mathematics, psychotropic drugs.
We come out at the other side strengthened and purified, endowed with a new ability to sense, if only for a moment, glimpses of a perfect pattern amidst the worldly chaos.
Moomins are weird. I mean, yeah, cute – fine.
But weird, too.
It somehow didn’t surprise me at all when a Google for ‘Moomin Lovecraft’ immediately produced this beauty:
Though there does seem to still be a gap in the market for some decent Moomin-Cthulhu Mythos fanfiction.
This is, of course, a long-winded and 20JFG way of bringing up the recently-rediscovered Moomins soundtrack, which sold out upon being issued by Finders Keepers this year. This is what the label had to say about the release and its origins:
“Imagine, if you will, a foreboding homemade electro-acoustic, new age, synth driven, proto-techno, imaginary world music Portastudio soundtrack for a Polish-made animated fantasy based on a Finnish modern folk tale and created for German and Austrian TV, composed in 1982 by two politically driven post-punk theatre performers from a shared house in Leeds!
“To even the most perspicacious and adventurous of alternative music fans the genuine bloodline of this previously unreleased record already begins to sound like an entire record collection in one sitting. It would be surprising if this project’s ambitious and exotic credentials didn’t tick at least one box on your musical matrix and without one drop of unnecessary nostalgic hyperbole this project already sounds like the perfect fantasy record that you’ve never heard. Alternatively we could just say The Moomins and, for many, things would instantly begin to make perfect sense.
“From the same social landscape as Gang Of Four, The Mekons and Impact Theatre Co-operative – armed with a Wasp synthesiser, an ocarina and a cassette of the Robinson Crusoe music taped off the TV, Graeme Miller and Steve Shill used minimum means for maximum mayhem, instilling over 35 years of dreamlike illusory fuzziness and freakiness into the memories of a generation of school age TV addicts waiting for the next 5 minute fix of outernational fuzzy felt folklore. Collected here, all in one place for the first time, Finders Keepers in close collaboration with the original composers finally bring the original homemade micro-melodies and reintroduce them to a musical landscape where fans of vintage electronics, concrète tape effects, pocket percussion and domestic synths are finally ready to be reunited with the magnetic music of Moominvalley.”
Proto-techno might be pushing it, but it’s a pretty cool and uncanny example of a sort of lo-fi bedroom-recorded Radiophonic Workshop years before that thing was even A Thing.
Works best if you don’t go rewatching the cartoons, obviously, and instead just remember these weird, subtly scary creatures haunting your TV every night when you got home from school smeared anew with the charming, naive, unheimlich sounds of this album.
Buy The Moomins from Finders Keepers
Moomin Cthulhu by Moreeni
In response to the terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert this week, Alexis Petridis wrote a quite wonderful paean to pop music (and experiencing it through the eyes of your daughter). If you haven’t read it, you should. I’ll wait. It’s beautiful.
20JFG have always loved pop music. Partly, no doubt, it began as anti-anti-pop-music posturing. You can only hear so many people bang on about ‘real music’ until you become the reactionary. I mean fuck, we like locked groove noise records, what’s so real about that? But really, the love of pop comes from somewhere purer than genre revanchism.
There is a drug-like purity to pop. A concerted effort to slide between the layers of cells defending your carefully curated tastes. Like a brilliantly sharp scalpel, slicing open the skin almost without feeling. And then it’s in, and it only wants to love you, from the inside.
Which brings us to the Industrial crypto-Pop of Higher Learning. Midnight reverb and towering drums; buried synth melody; long tape-sliped chords — this is somewhere around Fever Ray trying to land a slot on the Miami Vice soundtrack. Except, rather than compound a brutal, industrial sound, the vocal here is…pure pop. This could be (and should be) ripped from the event horizon of fucked-up pop (the heat death of the 80s) and the coming dominance of boy-bands. And I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.
You can hear more from Higher Learning on his Soundcloud here. This track is taken from an EP that’s just begging for an official release. So, if you have the power to do that, contacting him through that Soundcloud link would be a good place to start.
If the Wicker Man was set in the post-Brexit dystopia of Preston, Lancashire…
…it might look and sound quite a lot like Evil Blizzard. All of the music is a distorted bass guitar; grotesque masks thwart face-identification algorithms; the only emotion is seething mistrust.