Curfews Is Issued In The Daylight: 20 Years Of Funcrusher Plus

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A lot of significant things went down in the world of hip hop in 1997. From one perspective, one could view it as the pivotal year where an East coast legend, The Notorious B.I.G., was murdered in LA, about half a year after his West coast counterpart, Tupac Shakur, had also been gunned down. Some might also consider it as a year where many classic hip hop albums of the 90s were released, such as Biggie’s Life After Death, Jay Z’s In My Lifetime Vol. 1, and Wu Tang Forever from the Killa Bees of the NY. But in terms of landmark moments in hip hop, far fewer people will remember 1997 as the year that a little known trio called Company Flow threw out their Funcrusher Plus debut. Let’s talk about how this groundbreaking album is presently received as it nears its 20th anniversary this year, and why it was and still is so important.

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The story of Company Flow began in 1993, when Mr. Len was hired to perform at rapper/producer El-P’s 18th birthday party. The two quickly became friends afterwards, and began recording music together. Not much later, El-P was introduced to rapper Bigg Jus by ANTTEX, another rapper and label owner. Now Company Flow was firmly established, with the trio of Mr. Len as DJ and El-P and Bigg Jus rapping, with El-P also assisting Mr. Len with aspects of production. This new group eventually released the Funcrusher EP In 1996, and then Funcrusher Plus, a proper full length debut, arrived shortly thereafter, on July 22 of 1997.

To understand why Funcrusher Plus was so ahead of its time and radically different for hip hop, one really just needs to think of what else was going on at the time in the genre. So called “gangsta rap” had emerged about a decade earlier with the rise of NWA, later augmented by the emergence of other artists such as Tupac, Biggie, Snoop Dogg, and the solo careers of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. This take on hip hop focused on the harsh, gritty nature of street life in lower-income, impoverished communities, with a sense of hyper-realism aimed at portraying such life as accurately as possible. Common themes centered around drug dealing, gang violence, and occasionally, as with Tupac and Ice Cube, intense criticism of the American social order.

Company Flow completely ignored and flew in the face of these common hip hop tropes. Defying many of the larger trends occurring within hip hop at the time, Funcrusher Plus dove headfirst into the unknown, tapping heavily into unexplored influences from dystopian science fiction (a favorite of El-P’s) and a uniquely catchy sense of production smothered in a spacey, funk-like approach. And lyrically, the album was unquestionably one of the most well written, diverse cuts that the hip hop genre had once seen. I have immense respect and have been inspired deeply by the incredible lyricism on Funcrusher Plus, and time should be taken to discuss the various aspects of it.

Company Flow Logo

On the one hand, Company Flow did not entirely abandon the hip hop code of braggadocio and proclaiming themselves to be the illest of the ill. In a way, this is simply part of the genre that almost inevitably must be tapped into in some way by hip hop artists. Nonetheless, the way in which El-P and Bigg Jus took to this area of Company Flow’s music on Funcrusher Plus differed significantly. While many other rappers at the time were talking about their greatness in relation to the sufferings and hardships they had been through, El-P and Bigg Jus didn’t really apply the concept in this way. Instead, they seemed to go at it from a bit of a less serious angle, one that was still sophisticated and effective, but a little more for fun than anything else. As Bigg Jus brags on 8 Steps To Perfection”:

MCs couldn’t hang if they was lynched by the Grand Dragon!

Searching through my styles like Jobcore

Coming home on work relief, shoplifting at the rap store 

But sabotaging me ain’t easy!

El-P also doesn’t refrain from being boastful and taking shots at perceived amateur rappers, as seen on “Population Control”:

We answer to no one, we 911

Silent alarm, this is harm, fear the duck of learning 

El-P phase through these walls like vision 

Choked in the shallow water, a bad executive decision

As mentioned, El-P is a passionate nerd for dystopian science fiction from the likes of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Philip K. Dick. This love also oozed into the lyrics of Funcrusher Plus, as a few tracks painted a dark vision of a bleak, totalitarian run technocracy, at an unspecified date in Earth’s future. The most blatant example is “Help Wanted.” This track actually doesn’t contain any rapping from Bigg Jus or El-P, and instead samples from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain, but it still paints a powerful picture of some of the album’s themes:

We manufacture war toys. We have an electronic computer programmed with the politics of the government. The government is our client. We feed the computer data on coming wars and revolutions. It tells us what kind of toys to produce, to condition children from birth.

At other points in the album these influences may be a little more subtle, but still present, such as El-P mentioning that the hip hop lifestyle is so important to him that “it’s either rhyme or euthanasia” on “Blind.” Or talking about how “Ted Turner and Bill Gates rub each other down with olive oil” on “Population Control.

Finally, there is one strong example of social commentary and discussion of some of life’s harsh realities in the lyrics of Funcrusher Plus. It would be the first (but not the last) time that El-P would address the issue of some of the domestic violence his mother suffered from his stepdad when he was younger, on “Last Good Sleep.” Undoubtedly the most emotionally powerful track on the album, its significance for El-P all these years later is still clear. When Company Flow reunited briefly in 2011 to play all through Funcrusher Plus live in New York, El-P appeared very ambivalent when the time came to perform the track. All these years later, its haunting hook is no less impactful:

At night I cover ears in tears 

The man downstairs must have drank too many beers 

Now every night of my life he beats his wife 

(Til the day I die)

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What does this all mean for Company Flow, and the individual members involved, all these years later? Why is Funcrusher Plus so important, and why should its 20 year anniversary be held as such a monumental event in hip hop?

For starters, there’s El-P. Though Mr. Len and Bigg Jus were certainly major factors in the success and legacy of Funcrusher Plus, it was El-P who ended up capitalizing the most on this success. The album can be seen as something of an unspoken announcement of the incoming wave of excellent, thought provoking underground hip hop that would soon arrive in the early-to-mid 2000s. El-P ended up playing a major role in this wave, as, shortly after Company Flow’s disbanding in 2001, he formed the New York-based Def Jux Records (later extended to Definitive Jux because of a petty lawsuit with Def Jam). As the commander of Definitive Jux, El-P released many important albums for several significant indie rappers who were only starting to emerge at the time, including but not limited to Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Cage, C-Rayz Walz, and more. El-P would also go on to launch his own successful solo career from here and help produce albums for a good number of other rappers over the years. In 2012, his production of Atlanta rapper Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music helped spawn a friendship between the two that led to them forming Run The Jewels together.

Though not as widely received, the subsequent solo careers of Bigg Jus and Mr. Len have been noteworthy in their own rights. To be blunt, I don’t think either of these two are quite as talented as El-P either rap wise or production-wise, but this is definitely not to say that they are without talent period. In particular, I have greatly enjoyed Black Mamba Serums v2.0 from Bigg Jus, which has a very ensnaring, bass-heavy sense of production and wonderful lyricism from Jus. From Mr. Len I’d suggest Pity The Fool , a “Various Artists” type album where Len produced different tracks for different rappers. It’s a fun listen due to how Mr. Len’s production adapts to fit the rappers featured, showcasing his flexible production talents.

Perhaps most importantly, the ultimate legacy of Funcrusher Plus is just how it served, and still serves as a point of reference and inspiration to any rappers looking to go at the sci fi/dystopian angle. Aside from Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagonecologyst spin off album in 1996 (which is still very different from the Company Flow debut), until 1997 no rappers had really explored this area in the way that Company Flow did. Funcrusher Plus could then perhaps be seen as inspiring future albums like Deltron 3030 from Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, the groovy hip hop warning of “psychic dictatorships” from Red Ants, and more. And of course, this influence may have extended beyond the lyrical aspect as well, as the spacey, funky production employed on Funcrusher Plus may have inspired other producers such as Dan The Automator, SKYWLKR, and others to explore such approaches as well.

In 2017, though it has a very strong cult following among fans of the more underground side of the genre, Funcrusher Plus still remains largely unknown to the majority of hip hop fans. In a way this is understandable due to the degree to which it conflicted with so many tendencies of popular, mainstream hip hop when it was released (and still does today). It could also be owed partially to the short career of Company Flow. Perhaps they would have acquired more recognition if they had not broken up and amassed a larger discography. Whatever the cause of Funcrusher Plus’s continued obscurity, it remains one of the most creative and forward thinking albums of 90s hip hop. And really, when one looks at a lot of hip hop around today, even at the more underground level there still isn’t much out there quite like Funcrusher Plus. A highly influential album that was ahead of its time, it is truly one for the ages.

If you’re a longtime fan, someone who has never listened, or something in between those two, the time to smash that damn play button is now. 20 years later, MCs still couldn’t hang if they was lynched by the Grand Dragon.


Ravana, your host here at Cryptic Resonations, is an avid fan of experimentalism in any and all art forms, residing somewhere deep in the swamps of Southern Florida. He particularly enjoys black metal, drone, hip hop, surrealist film, and transcendentalist poetry, and is also a Staffer over at Metalstorm.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End Of Drifter: Love, Suffering, And Mystery… In Space

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Ivan Brandon (author) and Nic Klein (illustrator) debuted the eerie sci fi series that is Drifter in November of 2014 on Image Comics. Right from the first issue, I knew that I was going to be in for something spine tingling, thought provoking, and… just all around different, significantly at odds with a large majority of other series in the comics industry in terms of plot structure, tone, and artwork as well. In June, as Drifter came to an absolutely brilliant close with its 19th and final issue, my jaw dropped as I came to the final page and didn’t pick itself back up for a good 5 minutes. I had just finished what is unquestionably one of the most bold, well thought out, and beautifully illustrated series in comic history. If only more people knew about it. If only…

 

Fellow readers, it is time to give some attention to this wonderful, gorgeous series, how it ended, and what it all means. At the moment, I can’t find any reviews of any issues of Drifter after 16, meaning that other than this article, there isn’t any commentary anywhere about the finale, how everything wrapped up, etc. Cryptic Resonations is more than happy to fill that void.

 

*SPOILERS AHEAD*: I considered not dropping any, but as it turned out, I just can’t give Drifter a good analysis without describing the intricacies of its plot, choice of setting, and how this translates to my interpretation of the series message. If you don’t mind being spoiled, or have already finished the series yourself, proceed. If you’re looking to avoid spoilers, well… go ahead and start with issue 1 and see what you make of it.

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The first issue of Drifter begins with a space ship crashing down onto a mysterious planet, Ouro, in a massive, catastrophic explosion. Shortly thereafter, a survivor, Abram Pollux, rises from a lake where the ship crashed and crawls ashore. Before he knows what even hits him, a man, later introduced as Bell Emmerich, runs up from behind and shoots him in the gut. The motivation behind this attack is, for the moment, left unclear. Pollux blacks out and later wakes up tied to a bed, being rehabilitated by Lee Carter. Carter is a medic, and also the sheriff of “Ghost Town,” a small human community established on the planet. As things proceed from here, Pollux eventually goes looking for his ship, charging into the night of Ouro after getting into a brief bar squabble. Carter runs after him to check on his safety. The two discuss Pollux’s origins, Carter being quite confused about where he may have come from. Pollux is convinced that he has only been on the planet for a few days, and journeys onwards to the ruins of his ship. As both he and Carter come upon the ruins, Carter reveals to Pollux that, contrary to the latter’s belief, the ship actually crashed on Ouro over a year prior to Pollux’s encounter with Carter.

 

Thus the core mystery of Drifter is introduced with this ending to the first issue. How long has Abram Pollux actually been on the planet Ouro? Why did Bell Emmerich shoot him down shortly after his arrival? Was he somewhere else before he got shot that he simply can’t remember? All of these questions are left unanswered until the final volume of Drifter, a fact that may frustrate many readers, but that does a wonderful job of creating a narrative where suspense continues to build and build until reaching a climax where the veil is finally pulled back and the answers… end up having been right in front of you all along.

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The next major event to come into play in Drifter is the introduction of “the Wheelers.” These beings are indigenous to the planet Ouro, and resemble skeletal humanoids, with glowing, yellow eyes and inhuman strength said to be equal to or even greater than the strength of five grown men combined. Pollux first encounters them while taking a temporary mining job, and it’s quickly made clear that in the hierarchy of life on the planet, they are above humans, and will cut down any who impede their utilitarian sense of “progress.” This is demonstrated when, while working in the mines, a Wheeler breaks the hands of one of Pollux’s friends who was also working with him, due to the friend standing in its way.

 

When Pollux retaliates to this attack by attacking (and presumably killing) a wandering Wheeler with a shovel a bit later, he is forced to have a discussion with the enigmatic “Man in the Dark,” a shadowy character who seems to always reside in an upstairs room in the bar in Ghost Town, and who, it is implied, is the leader of the Wheelers. This character, when first introduced, says many vague and cryptic things that do reveal information, without revealing too much. He (it?) mentions that “the victim [the Wheeler Pollux killed]… we are different versions of the same design,” and that “we have no name for ourselves, but we are always together. Below and above, different sides of a single purpose: to bring balance.” Pollux is left with this to consider, and then dismissed from The Man in the Dark’s presence.

Drifter Man In The Dark

Much more happens in the plot of Drifter from here that only serves to intensify the sense of intrigue, a puzzle to be solved, and an overall feeling of “just what is going on here?” At the end of the first volume, Pollux finds a dug out grave with a tombstone that has his name on it. At the end of volume 2 a Wheeler, being controlled by the Man in the Dark, destroys the still intact engine of Pollux’s ship that crashed, causing a huge explosion that litters the sky of Ouro with ash, creating a nuclear winter type of effect. Bell Emmerich, the man who shot Pollux down after his arrival in issue 1, is shown in a flashback to have been on the same ship that Pollux crashed down onto Ouro on. And further still, a mysterious, masked figure lurks here and there in the shadows, moving his own plans along.

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As it is eventually revealed, Abram Pollux was the command pilot of the ship that crash landed onto Ouro, which did crash a year prior to where the series begins. Emmerich was on the ship as well, as were all the citizens of Ghost Town, in cryo sleeping pods. Something (what exactly is never explained) eventually happens to send the ship into a state of instant system collapse, causing everything to burn. Pollux, madly in love with his wife Virginia (“Ginny”), chooses to escape from the ship with her in an escape pod as opposed to saving the rest of the crew. Emmerich condemns him for his cowardice and selfishness, and issues one final report to the ship logs before the craft crashes into the ground of Ouro as was shown in the first issue.

 

Ouro, it is revealed in a conversation between Emmerich and Lima, who was also on the ship, is a very special, unique planet home to a phenomenon known as “reflections.” Essentially, whenever any being on the planet is in a state of severe distress, either physical or mental, the planet sends out a perfect copy of that being, a “reflection,” to nurse it back to health. But once these reflections have served their purpose and the master copy is better, Ouro sends out red, malevolent copies of the being to “clean up,” or, put simply, to destroy the reflections. These are the Wheelers.

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And here the mystery at the heart of Drifter begins to unravel, as the series nears its end. As it turns out, in reality Abram Pollux landed on Ouro after the explosion of his ship with his wife, Ginny, still asleep in the cryo pod. He was not shot by Emmerich immediately after arriving. After taking care of a few mechanical issues, he finally awakens Ginny out of her pod. But upon discussing the ship crash with her and how they are now on another planet, and also mentioning that he only saved himself and Ginny in the crash because “there was no time for the others,” Ginny is thoroughly disgusted, and abandons Pollux. This devastates Pollux to the point that Ouro sends out one of its reflections to assist. This reflection is the Abram Pollux that readers are introduced to in the very first issue of Drifter. He is merely a reflection, and the mysterious masked character who has been moving in and out of the plot is the real Abram Pollux.

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When these two finally meet, the real Pollux is not in a state of good health, and dies shortly after, with the reflection Pollux and all the other citizens of Ghost Town (themselves reflections as well) burying him. Now in an existential crisis due to the shocking revelation, the reflection Pollux falls into a somber state of questioning his own existence. Eventually he pulls himself out of it and comes to the decision that, since Emmerich is the only human on Ouro who isn’t a reflection, he should do his best to get him home. The reflection Pollux dons a space suit and flies Emmerich above Ouro in a tiny escape pod, sending a distress signal out into space for any passing ships to potentially pick up. This version of Pollux marvels at the vast expanse of space, which he has never seen before, before vanishing, leaving only the spacesuit he put on, as well as Emmerich, now in a sleeping pod, on the spacecraft. And here is where the story of Drifter ends.

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For a moment, after finishing this final issue of Drifter, I didn’t quite know what to think. In a way I almost felt as though it was anticlimactic, as though it hadn’t ended on a seriously chaotic note that shook everything up. Then I realized that such a moment had already come in the 17th issue, where the nature of Ouro’s reflections is revealed, and that the ending of issue 19 is actually surprisingly poignant and beautiful when the entire series is taken into consideration.

 

The real Abram Pollux was motivated primarily by love, love for his wife Ginny. But it was a selfish love, a love that caused him to forsake his responsibility for the crew of his ship as a command pilot and flee the burning craft, focusing only on the safety of himself and Ginny. I can’t but help be reminded of Buddhist philosophy here in a way, the teaching that human suffering results from our over-attachment to material things, to excessive craving and desire. Reading the final few issues of Drifter I felt as though they were a warning, a caution about the potential results of over-attachment to anything that could cause one to lose focus of the perceived “greater good.”

 

The reflection of the real Abram Pollux was motivated by a sense of revenge, wanting to get even with Emmerich after being shot, and wanting to get answers about just what was happening to the reflections on Ouro, what the Wheelers were planning, and so forth. In a way, one could interpret his actions in the plot of Drifter as being more ethical, driven more by a sense of wanting to set things right and bring the right of information to the citizens of Ghost Town than for his own selfish purposes. However, due to the fact that Wheelers eventually destroying reflections is the procedure on Ouro, it is highly implied throughout Drifter that this reflection version of Pollux is only serving to disrupt the natural order of things at the end of the day, that instead of fitting in and finding his established purpose, he is fighting a useless battle, a battle in which his only enemy… is himself. What this all means is not answered clearly. It could be author Ivan Brandon suggesting that it’s best to go with the flow and not fight against the way life proceeds too much. It could be the opposite, Brandon advocating resistance and thinking for yourself regardless of what the status quo may be. But part of the beauty of Drifter is that this issue is left being so ambiguous even when the series ends. Readers are left to discern the meaning for themselves.

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If the impression hasn’t already been given, allow me to say that Drifter is anything but typical. The plot is nonlinear, highly poetic and dreamlike with its word choice, revolves around a mystery that really isn’t solved until its penultimate issue, and is also extremely unique merely in terms of plot and setting. A planet that sends out a clone of beings in a state of distress to help the original copy? A gritty fusion of sci fi, Western, and even a splash of horror? Can you think of anything else like that in the comic world, or even the film world or novel worlds? I sure can’t. And while I’ve mainly been talking about the plot of Drifter, its tone, and its theme here, let’s also not forget about the artwork. Nic Klein’s work on this series is some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen in the comics medium, almost photographic in its sense of detail and realism. He ended up winning a Spectrum Award for it last year, and the award is anything but undeserved.

 

Due to its high idiosyncracy and downright puzzling plot line, Drifter will in all likelihood remain a woefully underrated and unknown series in comic book history. But for those who have read all through it, it will hopefully leave a powerful impression upon them of being a series that dared to go for something extremely unusual and otherwordly, that succeeded in that goal, and ended on a very, very high note.

 

If interested even after being spoiled with all the above plot detail, I would definitely recommend checking out Volume 1 of Drifter to see how you feel about the series and if you feel you’re down for the long haul from there. As a fair warning, all questions will not be answered immediately. Most answers will only yield more questions. The series does not hold your hand or spoon feed you information. But there are, of course, many more series out there that do. The fact that Drifter stands in disalignment to this prevailing trend and carves its own distinct mark is as good a testament as any to its allure and the powerful impression it leaves.

 

-Ravana, July 2017.


Ravana, your host here at Cryptic Resonations, is an avid fan of experimentalism in any and all art forms, residing somewhere deep in the swamps of Southern Florida. He particularly enjoys black metal, drone, hip hop, surrealist film, and transcendentalist poetry, and is also a Staffer over at Metalstorm.net.

Drone In The Tundra: The Mysterious Ways Of Afsprengi Satans

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Last year, deep in the chasms of underground metal, something special happened that is already promising to deliver potent results. Alexander Poole (Skáphe, Chaos Moon) and the secretive HV Lyngdal (Wormlust), two crafters of dark, hallucinogenic black metal, decided to unite and form their own label. It would be called Mystískaos. At present, there are only four bands on the label: Skáphe, Wormlust, Ljáin, and Afsprengi Satans. Yet, given the sheer caliber of the artists involved, Mystískaos seems to already be suggesting that it will end up being a label where quality reigns over quantity.

 

Likely due to the influence of Lyngdal, all Mystískaos bands at present, with the exception of Skáphe, are Icelandic. And it is the latest EP from Afsprengi Satans, Djöful Leg, that is on deck for discussion today. Membership in this band is difficult to discern, as cloaked and hazy as the music itself. On the Bandcamp page for Djöful Leg, an individual known only as Grafhýsk is credited with an impressive resume of guitar, percussion, woodwind, piano, violin, and vocal duty on the EP, implying that Afsprengi Satans is a one man project. However, last year, when the band’s Seiðgall debut came out, there was talk of HV Lyngdal being involved in some way as well. Indeed, the massive Metal Archives encyclopedia seems to have reinforced this idea on their page for Lyngdal, listing him as being involved in Afsprengi Satans but his role in the band being “Unknown.” This is really all the information we have to go with at the moment.

 

Afsprengi Satans

2016’s Seiðgall saw Afsprengi Satans grounded more in a thick, haunting dark ambient sound, and while Djöful Leg for the most part does as well, these two releases have considerably different sounds that without question make them stand out from each other. Whereas Seiðgall employed more of a formless ambient approach, content to simply let the listener float in a state of ghostly stasis, Djöful Leg has a greater sense of direction and appears to want to guide the listener more, primarily through an impressive use of percussion, which is the main driver of the music here. Bearing this in mind, Seiðgall  and Djöful Leg are two releases that would come as good examples to show anybody who would make the claim that all ambient and drone-derived forms of music sound the same, to show them that, on the contrary, there is a lot of variation within these genres, both among different bands and sometimes even within a single band’s discography, as is the case with Afsprengi Satans.

 

I can’t stress how enjoyable this percussive aspect of Djöful Leg makes the music. It’s not often in the drone and ambient genres that this approach is taken. Understandably so, because the music is often meant to be more shapeless, not guided too much in one direction over another, but more so just meant to be there, if that makes sense, as something to relax and meditate upon. This inevitably means that percussion will end up being a very difficult technique to incorporate into the composition of such music. It too must take a more minimalistic, repetitive approach as does the rest of the music, so as not to compromise the trancelike atmosphere. Thankfully, Afsprengi Satans hits this nail right on the head with Djöful Leg. If anything, the addition of percussion helps to make the music more suspenseful, claustrophobic, and chaotic, as if it’s forcibly pushing the listener closer and closer to the edge of that black abyss, until finally, as the composition nears its end, you are thrown in head first, never to return.

 

Whenever I listen to some of the black metal or dark ambient music that has been coming out of Iceland as of late, there’s almost always a feeling that these bands are amazing byproducts of their environment, that they really capture the cold, unforgiving nature of the Icelandic landscape with their music. Afsprengi Satans is no exception. The swirly, psychedelic effects that lie behind the percussion on this EP, and form the bulk of the droney composition, almost appear to be great reverberations emanating from one of Iceland’s many volcanoes, or something similar. As the 7 minute mark nears and that spoken word bit comes into play (presumably in Icelandic), one can’t help but imagine some ancient, powerful shaman of Iceland, standing in the wilderness, wrapped tightly in animal skins to keep warm, and reciting a powerful spell amidst his followers before being plunged into the spiritual realm to acquire knowledge for his people. In short, to say that the music here does an incredible job at recreating this haunting, dreamlike aesthetic given off by Iceland’s nature would be a massive understatement.

 

And the most amazing part of it all? Djöful Leg is just one single track, clocking in at slightly over 18 minutes. And Seiðgall before it was just about 24 minutes. I’m reminded a bit of the rise of Bölzer in 2013 here, in terms of how Afsprengi Satans have already left such a powerful impression with so little under their belt. But this is only testament to the commendable, ensnaring power of their music. Whoever is behind this band, be it Grafhýsk, HV Lyngdal, or both, they know what the fuck they’re doing. After immersing myself in the murky waters of both this EP and Seiðgall several times now, the hype is sky high for a full length Afsprengi Satans debut, whenever it chooses to arrive. Top of the shelf stuff for its genre and deserving of more recognition not only for its interesting take on dark ambient music, but also for the fact that it greatly helps to improve the reputation of this budding Mystískaos label of Poole’s and Lyngdal’s. Keep your eyes both on the label and on Afsprengi Satans. There is no question whatsoever that both are headed towards great, boundary-breaking things.

 

Go cross over.

 

-Ravana, July 2017.

 


 

Ravana, your host here at Cryptic Resonations, is an avid fan of experimentalism in any and all art forms, residing somewhere deep in the swamps of Southern Florida. He particularly enjoys black metal, drone, surrealist film, and transcendentalist poetry, and is also a Staffer over at Metalstorm.net.

 

 

 

 

Cryptic Resonations – A Manifesto

Cryptic Resonations – A Manifesto

As far as publishing and media coverage of the arts is concerned, for too long there have been far too many outlets, both online and offline, that only give attention to the more popular, commercialized, and socially acceptable art forms. Concerned more with ratings and the number of people who have their company’s name coming out of their mouths, they choose to focus on bands that have already been discussed to death a thousand times over, films that employ easily accessible, cliched plot lines and genre tropes, and similar food that can be easily fed to a mass consumer audience without too much resistance. Cryptic Resonations refuses to fall into this game of focusing on the attention something receives from the masses over the actual quality of the work in question.

 

The time for a radical shift in art coverage has arrived. The purpose of Cryptic Resonations is simple enough. This blog seeks to explore and shed light on the more obscure, experimental, and socially stigmatized forms of art. Here the belief is held that one is not truly being an “artist” unless one is being daring enough to charge into the unknown and explore things that have not yet been done before. Art does not do what everyone else at the moment is doing. Art does not erect walls or proclaim that any topic is off limits for exploration, commentary, what have you. Art shatters borders and does whatever it pleases in its aim to advance human perspective and intellectual ability through creative replications of the subconscious.

 

Some may find some of the above sentences to be incredibly elitist or pretentious. And I would ask such people to stop and consider the nature of art’s history, and how the large majority of artists who are today regarded as serious innovators and revolutionaries in their fields were often mocked, criticized, and received little recognition at all during their actual lifetimes. It was not until after their deaths that people came to have a greater appreciation for their daring, precedent-setting work. The point to be made here is that true artistic innovation is not often welcomed at the time that it is taking place due to how perplexing and chaotic it typically appears to many people. But this is the prime interest of the Cryptic Resonations blog: to find such innovation in various art forms, music, film, literature, the visual arts, and otherwise, and to shed light on them. This is not for the purpose of bringing fame and fortune to any of the crafters of such art, or to have their careers explode into exponential success, but rather to show that there is a veiled world of artistic radicalism bubbling under the thick layer of everyday, mainstream artistry, and to peel back the veil that lies over it.

 

The name of the blog itself encapsulates its vision. “Cryptic” implies something hidden, unseen, and unknown to the general population, which is exactly what the type of art that will be receiving attention here is. A “resonation” is like an echo, the amplification or continued sustaining of an initially generated sound. With this definition in consideration, a musical connotation may come to mind, but a resonation does not merely have to be musical, as it can be caused by anything that generates a sort of ensnaring, otherworldly type of pulsation that draws you closer to it. Experimental, transgressive forms of art, musical or not, tend to do just that.

 

In all likelihood, publications on Cryptic Resonations will be mostly music-related, as I have a prior background in music writing and am quite intimately involved in several aspects of the international music scene. However, no boundaries or limitations shall be drawn and all possibilities relating to creative, hidden, and socially taboo manifestations of art will remain open. Reviews of albums, films, books, and visual art are on the table. Interviews with bands, filmmakers, and authors are on the table. Personal thoughts and observations from yours truly in related areas are on the table. No guidelines or directions shall be too firmly established from the outset. As these artists of focus charge boldly into uncharted territory, going whichever way their inner drive leads them, so too shall Cryptic Resonations.

-July 2017.


Ravana, your host here at Cryptic Resonations, is an avid fan of experimentalism in any and all art forms, residing somewhere deep in the swamps of Southern Florida. He particularly enjoys black metal, drone, surrealist film, and transcendentalist poetry, and is also a Staffer over at Metalstorm.net.