There’s nothing like a Jute Gyte discussion to distinguish the open-minded from the idiotic. In fairness, the project is a tad of an easy target. Not entirely unlike Liturgy‘s H. H. Hendrix, Adam Kalmbach has fused highbrow intellect and cerebral girth so much into his project’s aesthetic that those without the relevant PhDs in philosophy and postmodern musical theory are left dry as bones by the music—that is, provided they’re not willing to give him the benefit of a doubt and embrace it as genuine. To Kalmbach’s credit, I fully believe all of his creations are sincere; the work is densely intellectual without being pretentious as some say. More importantly, his application of microtonality (‘notes between notes’) in metal easily deserves labelling as a genius. It’s one thing to think up an interesting idea, and quite another to show what the experiment can really do. Jute Gyte does both. His fans are totally right to admire his work. I count myself among them.
I think some of Jute Gyte’s detractors are equally as valid. Calling the music dry and uninviting in so many words and dismissing it without thought isn’t fair to the music or even the listener in question, but it doesn’t mean the opinion’s incorrect. I think the best way I could describe my experience of Perdurance is that parts of my brain light up in joy while listening to it, while others check out within seconds. Never mind the part of me that looks for very specific things in a so-called ‘black metal’ release—the dark heart is discarded to make room for academic footnotes and philosophical apocrypha. That said, I don’t think Jute Gyte is always dry; Discontinuities and Vast Chains have the same warped dissonance with a much harder-hitting impact. On Perdurance, it simply seems like his focus shifted even more so towards the cerebral.
That total focus on concept and theory on a metal album is almost admirable, and it’s certainly not a bad thing per se. It just makes Perdurance an incredibly tough record to truly appreciate and enjoy, even more so than other Jute Gyte material I’ve heard. The album’s footnotes honestly make Kalmbach out to be a pretty unassuming guy who wants to apply highbrow music theory to black metal and see what comes of it. Taken as an experiment in composition, Perdurance could be one of the most ingenious metal albums I’ve ever heard. There’s very little to grab on to at first as a listener, but the logic comes together with repeated listens. The use of microtonality ensures that the music is exceptionally ugly, but I never once feel that Adam uses it as a gimmick. Without that high concept, I’m sure Jute Gyte would come off sounding like a depraved Krallice, but I can honestly say there is nothing I’ve heard in metal that otherwise compares to this.
The issue with Jute Gyte isn’t how intellectual or even how inaccessible it is. It is something tragic that a project this brilliant and promising contracts a case of ‘one-man band syndrome’, with recordings that feel one-sided or undesirably homegrown. That’s all part of the appeal for something like Xasthur, but with an album as dense and technical as Perdurance, I’d hope to hear a production that sounds as professional as the material deserves. Everything from the guitars to the programmed drums, howled vocals and electronic ambiance sounds frustratingly muffled. Kalmbach is obviously skilled with programming, but the rampant electronica feels like a failed aspect of the experiment. Nothing sounds as bright as it should, and I’m left feeling like I’ve been listening to a proof-of-concept demo rather than the finished product. I’m sure at least some of the dryness people love to complain about would be fixed if the music had a more ‘live’ presentation rather than the digital hell Perdurance is put through. That’s the one thing that’s kept me from wholeheartedly loving this project. The same applies to everything I’ve heard from Jute Gyte, but considering the extra density this time around, I’d say it’s a bit worse in the case of Perdurance.
I’ve basically come to see Jute Gyte as Gnaw Their Tongues for people who prefer watching French New Wave films instead of sleazy horror movies. Both projects are the stuff of genius, both are extreme, and both arguably sell their visions short by releasing shit-tons of albums when they could have pooled their resources into a select few and brought the most out of them. Perdurance has so, so much going for it, but the cheap production crumbles beneath the weight of what he set out to achieve with this one.
01) At the Limit of Fertile Land
02) The Harvesting of Ruins
03) Like the Woodcutter Sawing His Hands
05) Consciousness Is Nature’s Nightmare
06) I Am in Athens and Paracles Is Young