Jute Gyte is a prolific one-man experimental black metal band who releases prodigiously and sounds like very few other artists. His extensive back-catalogue (usually four albums per year) varies between dark ambient and highly abrasive black metal. Ship of Theseus belongs in the latter category and sounds like a brutal, uncompromising evolution of the sound he’s been refining over the past two years.
Ship of Theseus’ prevailing mood of angst and dread saturates the dense and complex musical tapestry as time signatures and tones pitch strangely and constantly destabilize the listener through its eight and nine-minute tracks. It is less accessible than his last few albums, which is saying something. Rarely is a riff allowed to settle or a familiar segment last for too long, but repeated listens reveal a highly ordered and carefully constructed work that shows a mastery of both atmosphere and composition.
New listeners will immediately notice the unusual ‘microtonal’ sound which is the result of a modified guitar. Essentially, tonal values smaller than semitones are used extensively. This lends a very distinctive style to Jute Gyte’s guitar albums which takes a while to get used to, but opens up a much wider range of possible chords and riffs. This challenges the traditional consonance/dissonance structure that underlies most Western music (including much metal), but has been studied and mastered over the course of a dozen or so albums to the point where we are hearing a truly original artist completely at ease with his medium. This outsider approach especially makes sense considering the theme behind Ship of Theseus—a well-known philosophical paradox that applies well to Jute Gyte’s sound as it comes together in something of a musically bastardised form. It’s as if Ship of Theseus has been deconstructed and reconstructed thousands of times over with the same bits and pieces, growing slightly more bizarre and corroded with every reassembly.
Jute Gyte is one of those really exciting artists that, in many ways, is so far ahead of his contemporaries and situated in such a relatively small niche that he will never get the recognition he deserves or influence as many people as he should. Despite having such a large and frequent output, the standard is constantly high and varied. If this is your first time listening to him, you may initially be put off, even if you listen to a lot of extreme metal. It certainly rewards repeated listening, however, and is so carefully composed that it will start to lodge in your memory and begin to make sense. In some ways, it’s analogous to an extreme metal version of the far-out albums of Autechre’s middle releases.
Ship of Theseus is a difficult, unsettling, but deeply satisfying album to listen to. One can only wonder where Jute Gyte will go from here.
01) Lugubrious Games (Sans frontières)
02) Forces of Self-Shedding
03) Grief of New Desire
04) Ship of Theseus
05) Machinery that Renders Debt Infinite
06) Pain and Wrath Are the Singers