May 20, 2024

LINGUA IGNOTA – “CALIGULA” – could be the most intense thing you hear this year

Profound Lore 19th July 2019

LINGUA IGNOTA means unknown language, like Hildegard von Bingen used in trances and like Kristin Hayter here shifts into occasionally; a language beyond those that humans know, one that expresses the inexpressible. In this largely brutal, occasionally beautiful, work, Hayter finds plenty to express and many of these heavy slabs blast into oppressors, molesters, haters and brutalisers. She’s a survivor of abuse and this is her expression of pain and anger. A paradoxically ultra-feminine rage at things that largely happen to women. It takes a form associated with men in black coats and uses it as a weapon and art-form. She also insists her stage name and all titles are in CAPITAL LETTERS. Why? I dunno but it is nicely eccentric.

A very challenging listen, the moments of beauty stand like islands. The quiet moments of I AM THE BEAST. The Tuuvan throat singing in SORROW! SORROW! SORROW! (the unearthly sound pins the attention and the intense sadness and resigned anger maintains the focus). The opening piece, FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST has antiphonal aspects like a Bulgarian women’s choir. There is a lot of hoarse-voiced screaming and industrial noises like the world falling apart. Organ sounds, like the beginning of the single, BUTCHER OF THE WORLD lead the listener to expect something liturgical; instead they get distorted hoarse declaiming. “Who will fuck you if I don’t” sings Kirsten over tinkling piano before ultra-slow, ultra-distorted guitar accompanies the title chorus; “MAY FAILURE BE YOUR NOOSE”. It’s not all shouting, FRAGRANT IS MY MANY FLOWER’D CROWN is a slow tirade with some more throat singing, it describes men only really loving each other. Some are gentle in pace and backing but tormented and brutal – IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL could hardly be anything but personal and the anguished vocals make it clear.

Moving between industrial-scale noise and heartfelt balladry, the intensity, if not the sound, recall Diamanda Galas and this is very far from being background music. This is the antithesis of mood music unless your mood is clawing your eyes out in a darkened cavern. Named for the famously capricious and cruel Roman emperor, this album couldn’t be clearer in intent and feel. I’m on my third listen to this today; it is enthralling and horrific in equal measures.

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