A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Horrorscores: Xunholm – Asleep In The Shattered Mirror (Skrot Up)


There she is, the woman of yr dreams, all silken coal hair and cherry sucking lips. You almost can’t believe she wasn’t standing there a moment ago. The incantation worked! The mirror lies broken, tesseracted, on the floor of the dingy rented room.

This is one possible scenario for the horror synth of Xunholm‘s Asleep In The Shattered Mirror, released as a limited edition cassette from the excellent Belgian label Skrot Up.

Xunholm is the solo synth project of Jason Sublette, formerly of the bands Ga’an and E.T. Habit, residing in rural Illinois, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi. Sublette describes Xunholm as “for fans of heavy stargazing and aural alchemy,” so that alone tells you it belongs here in the forest.

As i wrote about another sci-fi cassette tape recently, Brokenkites’ Days Of Distant Stars, soundtracks for movies that don’t exist is not entirely revolutionary, it does not make it any less mandatory, or as special.

As our fellow experimental scribes from the city of roses, Experimental Portland, mused recently about an album from a band called Okha:

The sounds of Okha and No Parades couldn’t be more different, but what they share to my ears is an immersive quality. They wrap you up completely in these blankets of sound until you can’t see or hear anything but what they are pumping out of their pedals and noisemakers. And I love that about them. While the rest of the music world tries passive-aggressively to get my attention, here are artists that lay it all out and, with No Parades, try to intoxicate me, and with Okha, dare me to stare into the abyss without blinking.

That immersive quality is what these types of music have in common; a hook to hang yr thoughts on, a way to remember, to relate, to internalize.

Cinematic music -whether directly made for film, or just evocative of it – inherently calls images and scenes to mind, adding another layer to the listening experience. And while yr favorite film music can transport you back to yr favorite film, imaginary soundtracks are different, as there’s no pre-existing imagery to cling to, and the mind is forced to fill in the blanks.

Because of this, this style of music remains one of my favorites, no matter how overdone it may be. It allows you to transform yr life into a genre piece of yr choosing. Reality selection, paradigm tuning; yr life can be what you make of it.

As such, imaginary soundtracks also make for killer soundtracks for yr own creative work. Xunholm’s

Asleep In The Shattered Mirror would be a perfect score for some rustbelt cyberpunk dystopia, or a futuristic zombie apocalypse. It’s both sterling shining chrome and crumbling decadence, all at the same time, which again, fits right in in these pages.

Although some people are growing tire of the horror synth, i include Asleep In The Shattered Mirror in our horrorscores series for a number of reasons:

  • 1. We are attempting to trace the thread of the horror genre, in all its permutations, peeling back the surface layer, and looking for the gristly soul. This is qabalistic listening, deconstructing art down to its chromosomes, eliminating disparity, and embracing differences simultaneously.
  • 2. Asleep In The Shattered Mirror was released on cassette from Skrot Up. While we’ve been fans and admirers of the cassette underground for a long, long time, abject poverty has forced us to admire from a distance, unable to fully experience the ferric weirdness and wonder of strange, obscure, and abstract cassette tapes. The warm wow-and-flutter serves these synthscapes perfectly, weird and warped and strange and hypnotic. Also, the cassette format lends itself to repeat listenings. You cannot imagine how many times i’ve flipped this short tape this weekend, sinking deeper and deeper into its fog machine.
  • 3. In passing, certainly not a reason to post, but worth noting nonetheless, one of the only other references to Asleep… comes from Tiny Mix Tapes Cerberus Column,

    There’s a soundtrack-y quality to it all that transcends the cheaper Goblin-style hallmarks of the art form and zoom right in on the good stuff.

    Now, i may be wrong here, and i call upon yr maverick wisdom, o my readers, to correct or inform me, but as far as i’m aware, Goblin never got into the meditative synthscapes, instead favoring a kind of warlock prog rock. I would say, more definitively, that the sounds you will hear on Asleep In The Shattered Mirror is more like Klaus Schulze or Jonathan Snipes, with doses of Brad Fiedel or Mark Isham industrial percussion. There’s nary a whisper or a shrieking violin in sight.

    The only reason i mention this is the danger of reductive listening, that horror will be sucked up into one momentous monoculture, like everything else. Like a Horrorland amusement park.

    But, like kinks or fetishes, there’s as many as there are practitioners, and each one is unique. We may all love horror, but we all have different reasons for being here, even if we are reading and watching the same things.

    My hopes, my goals, with Forestpunk, is to seek out the oddball; the one-off; the ridiculously obscure; the hard-to-define; the cheap; the damaged, but with the same kind of intent listening, and qualitative analysis one would give a Beethoven sonata. All this towards the goal of the underground being raised to a New Renaissance, where we hold ourselves accountable, making timeless art, without succumbing to formulas and expectations.

    For lovers of horror synth, it’s all hear: the phat, melodic pads; the pulsing, flickering sequencer workouts; the crunchy drum machines, all delivered by some mad magus with a futurist pipe organ, with excellent songwriting instincts.

    We will continue to find as much horror-inspired art as we can, to track the roots and traces, and don’t worry, we’ll cry bullshit if we find something we hate. But just because something’s been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done well.

    This slight black cassette has been making my life a weirder and more black magickal of a place for the last week. I absolutely adore what Skrot Up are up to, and got a brimming package from them recently, so expect to hear more about that, in the coming days.

    Xunholm – Asleep In The Shattered Mirror was released in a limited edition of 60, and there’s still some left, so here’s yr chance to get a cool ferric oddity, to transmogrify yr morning commute, and support an awesome label, and a synth wizard, to boot.

    Wonderful stuff! Applause.

    Xunholm Soundcloud

    2 comments on “Horrorscores: Xunholm – Asleep In The Shattered Mirror (Skrot Up)

    1. unsubscriber
      February 9, 2015

      Another great review that’s left me want to hear more. All the best.

    2. Pingback: For Your Ears, again | Unquiet Things

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    This entry was posted on February 9, 2015 by in album reviews, cassettes, Horror and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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