LINGUA IGNOTA Caligula

[Profound Lore; 2019]

Styles: noise, doom
Others: Frozen Niagara Falls, Hildegard von Bingen

Domestic abuse and sexual assault fuck with one’s understanding of one’s inside and outside, a dual penetration into body and mind of an outside entity, a rapist, and abuser that shatters the division between our desires and flesh and those of the abuser. We lose the ability to think properly; we act as our abuser wants or wanted us to act; we act as the twitching aftermath of trauma in our brain forces us to act; we lose sense of where we are in relation to the world. Caligula, Kristin Hayter’s second full album as LINGUA IGNOTA, lives in the aftermath of intimate partner abuse, in the shivering convulsions of rage and fear it leaves, in the furious movement between identification with and rejection of the abuse and the abuser, in failures of all sorts.

Surprisingly, it’s far more tuneful than her previous release, ALL BITCHES DIE, and yet arguably even less listenable. Constructed from the most melodramatic sides of doom metal, noise, and neo-classical traditions, with assistance from extreme music luminaries such as The Body, Full of Hell, and Uniform, Caligula nevertheless finds its unification and purpose in the awful purity of Hayter’s voice and words. Her voice is an astonishing instrument, moving from operatic fullness to hyperventilating shredded shrieks, but always foregrounding intelligibility. Her words —

I don’t sleep, I don’t eat
Who will love you if I don’t / Who will fuck you if I don’t
Will you join me? / Make worthless your body, so no man can break it”

— remain implacably, devastatingly present, as the music swerves from crushing industrial fury to keening violin harmonics, the hard facts of sexual and emotional violence the ever-present totemic figure. Its tunefulness, then, its occasional embrace of melody and harmony and beauty, becomes a way to force us, in a very classic sense, to the sublime. Its continual detuning into harsh noise forces us, maybe, into a Satanic divine of a body ripped open. Melodrama here becomes the means by which to inhabit emotions that a body can scarcely contain, becomes a way to allow us to sit within the tension of a pain that a body cannot bear, seeks to cover-up, to cast out. Music and violence as spiritual rapture and rupture, yes, but here as the explosion of the unbearable into the extant.

The thing about domestic abuse is that we can’t know what it feels like, for to know one’s pain is to escape, is the failure of the abuser’s control. We dissociate; we tell ourselves we can endure it; we let ourselves drift away as we are destroyed. It’s fitting, then, that Hayter turns to Christian mysticism as a guide, placing the mundane facts of a truly fucked self into the realm of something ecstatic, into a communion with the divine. The Satanist impulse of metal music becomes a communion with that which is too awful to bear, all the tools of extreme music’s fury turned towards touching an impossible rage. When we get close enough to the words, they become texture. The sound of her larynx straining, the sounds of electronic and acoustic frequencies straining into and out of melody and harmonics. The form surges, expands, pushes us to the point that we cannot bear. There is a shame that comes from touching just how fucked we are, causes us to recoil. Caligula lives in that shame, elevates it to communion with the divine, pushes the tensions and the desire to recoil and the feared memory into surging masses of sonics that urges us outward, downward, past ourselves. It turns us into a scream.

We feel what we cannot feel, the surge of simultaneous rage and misery that coalesces into

I’m going to throw your body in the fucking river.

This is “kill your rapist” not as self-care, not as political slogan, but as the emotional and physical manifestation of pain beyond self. There is catharsis in Caligula, yes, but it’s not pleasurable. It hurts. It tears. The self emerges from the abuser in this moment, in this you have completely fucked me up, and I want you to die. For a moment, while listening, I was able to touch the core of my fury, to feel the depths of my rage at my own abuser, to allow myself to become wrecked with sobs for myself. It’s not quite healing, but I’m not sure I needed or wanted “healing” in that sense. I wanted to be pure, to be chaste, and in its own foul way, Caligula allowed me to be. Thank you, Kristen.

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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