A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Wrekmeister Harmonies – Then It All Came Down (Thrill Jockey)

wrekmeister-harmonies-and-then-it-all-came-down-cover-360-1500Light Into Darkness

Chicago’s J.R. Robinson believes that life is a long, gradual process of decay and degradation. We are all born innocent, into the light, and slowly succumb to the pressures of society. On Then It All Came Down, Robinson, along with a Greek chorus of doom metal heavyweights, use the story of Bobby Beausoleil, one of Charles Manson’s golden boys, as an illustration of this process. In turns beautiful and horrific, Robinson & Co. use a wide array of instruments, styles, and techniques, to capture this full range of human experience.

It all starts off innocuously enough; glimmering organ drones, temple bells, gorgeous violins and cello thwomps. A celestial choir of women’s voices intone “beautiful sun”, which is what Beausoleil’s name translates into, in French. Perhaps this is what inspired occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger to cast Beausoleil as the lead role in the unfinished Lucifer Rising, which he also composed an unreleased soundtrack for. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page would later finish the task.

In Bobby Beausoleil, we have a figure tying together the flower power hippy rock of the late ’60s/early ’70s; Lucifer, the light bringer; 20th century avant garde cinema; and a reign of terror and bloodshed, perpetuated by his “family”. In Beausoleil, we could see an illustration of the shadow of the underground, the collective unconscious made visible, all the better to analyze.

In the Truman Capote essay from which this album draws its name, in which Capote interviews Beausoleil in San Francisco’s San Quentin, Beausoleil claims: “Good and bad? It’s all good. If it happens, it’s got to be good. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be happening. It’s just the way life flows. Moves together. I move with it. I don’t question it,” and then goes on to say “I have my own justice. I live by my own law, you know. I don’t respect the laws of this society. Because society doesn’t respect its own laws. I make my own laws and live by them. I have my own sense of justice.”

Some good ol’ fashioned Satanic rhetoric here, that somewhat misses the point, or gets it slightly wrong. Many of the happenings Beausoleil claims to be good with are decisions made by people. To claim that “it’s all good”, and “everything happens for a reason”, sort of suggests a human infallibility, that all of our decisions are just and right in the moment, and we should just follow our instincts and do whatever. This does not take into account the dark sea of conditioning, prejudices, insecurities, and out and out lies we tell ourselves. For all of Manson’s messianic posturing, one wonders if the murders, particularly the Tate murders, were not spurred by the petty jealousy and greed of a struggling musician (record producer Terry Melcher used to inhabit 10050 Cielo Drive, and some have suggested that Manson didn’t realize he’d moved.

Being a recovering religious person, as well as a practitioner of the dark arts, i’m all for people making their own morality, creating their own code and sticking to it. In fact, that’s a large part of what this blog is about; discovering for yrself what you like, and what you are trying to do, to better realize yr goals and dreams. But once yr off the grid, one must be ever vigilant of the specter’s that pull our strings. We must uncover all our conditioning, unearth all our wounds, to learn how to heal them. That is the goal: healing, wholeness, happiness.

Back to the music. From here on out, Then It All Came Out fluctuates between gorgeousness, and mind-shredding dread, with tectonic doom and black metal howling. The transitions are seamless, and awe-inspiring, showing Then It All Came Down to be a new kind of longform, heavy metal, classical composition, that bodes well for all genres involved.

It comes off so well, perhaps, in part to the congregation of some of extreme/experimental music’s heaviest hitters. Chris Brokaw, from Codeine/Come, members of Indian, Leviathan, Yakuza, and Pulse Programming. Wrest, from Leviathan, provides the shrieking, and does an admirable job.

If you could imagine what it might sound like if Godspeed You! Black Emperor were mixed with the pastoral psych of Six Organs Of Admittance, and Electric Wizard, and yr getting there.

I think it’s a good sign that people are doing interesting things, mixing strings and classical instruments and structures with metal and electronics. It was a damn shame, during the ’00s, when the possibilities of “post-rock” denigrated into hollow structuralism. It seems like things are opening up again, and people are using whatever tools at their disposal, to tell unique and complex stories.

Then It All Came Down originally debuted at a large scale performance in Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery, as part of the Beyond The Gate series. The next installment is on Dec. 5th, so if yr in the midwest, make sure not to miss that.

Then It All Came Down features stunning artwork, from Simon Fowler, who’s done cover art for Sunn O))) and Earth, and the CD version comes packed with last year’s You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me, on disc here for the first time.

A staggering, stunning achievement, for those who aren’t afraid to pierce the darkness, but make up their own minds, once they get there.

Wrekmeister Harmonies – <a href=””>Then It All Came Down / You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me</a><img src=”; width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

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