‘Zayin’ is the seventh letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It is also the symbolic title of L’eclipse Nue‘s latest album, which represents their seventh release and the seventh anniversary of this project. 777.
L’eclipse Nue is the stage name of Daniel Sine, an American-born noise artist who spent the last decade living and making music in Tokyo, Japan. Japan, in fact, is where he started unleashing his pain via an audio outlet under the name L’eclipse Nue, and it seems that Japanese artistic culture has left its mark on Sine—something that you can surely hear it in his music. It definitely has some Japanoise influences, but Sine brings other things to table, primarily through his noise textures and vocals.
Zayin is not L’eclipse Nue‘s heaviest album. Previous releases (at least the ones I’ve heard) are much harsher in sound for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a noise album with some very intense passages. Some tracks can really damage your ear drums if you make the mistake of playing them too loud. A fine example for that is the album’s closer, ‘Chthonic Lament’, which really fucked with my brain in the best possible way. It’s short yet absolutely deadly!
Yet, most of the brutality is covered by a more atmospheric structure. Hypnotic Industrial loops and feedback are fused together with some sparser dark ambient elements, which gives the album an otherwise bleak skeleton to build around. In tracks such as ‘Beneath the Hooves of Metatron’ and ‘Crawling to Heaven on Abscessed Limbs’, you can really hear the softer touch behind the violence.
Tying the entire album together are monstrous and violent noise attacks with airy background overtones. On top of this, Sine’s vocals which are quite different from what you’d normally expect to find in a noise album. Something that for some reason increases the genuinely uneasy atmosphere.
In terms of Sine’s vocal delivery, he’s often surprisingly neither harsh nor brutal, but rather soft, at times even fragile. There are times when we can hear screams and shouts, but it seems that in his personal hell, Sine is not a sadistic spirit, but an involuntary visitor. Like most vocal performances in the style of power electronics, they, as well as Sine’s lyrics, can be angry at times, but mostly they sound like they are coming from a man who is close to his limit. ‘How Do You Get to Heaven?,’ Sine asks in the ninth track which bares the same name, and it seems like all the background noises cry with him. This is by far my favorite track off Zavin. It’s dark and full of hurt, and as it evolves, it slowly sucks your soul dry. Literally.
The creeping synthesizer mixed with the sounds of fog next to these broken, sobbing vocals made me picture myself in a dark and cold pit. There is not much hope to be found here, but instead waves of confusion, paranoia, and surrender, coming from someone who is a heartbeat away from giving up but still stands out there in his struggle.
Zavin‘s artwork also plays a significant role in developing its story. On the front cover (photo taken by Ray Ochiai), we see Sine passed out on the floor next to a toilet, lying next to a pool of vomit. Above him kneels a beautiful naked woman, either watching over him or ‘sucking his psychic energy’. You can’t really tell. She seems removed, almost as if she were somewhere else. Perhaps in a trance, but definitely not in this filthy restroom.
The word ‘heaven’ appears scribbled in reverse on a mirror in what appears to be some sort of vague tribute to Kubrick‘s The Shining (‘REDRUM’). Below the mirrored heaven note is an arrow pointing downwards, towards hell, where Sine clearly finds himself all too often. This message is clear.
The album’s cover is as personal and symbolic as L’eclipse Nue‘s music is, especially here on Zavin. It represents—in many ways—his state of mind, emotions, and pain, but also hints at breaking through Sine’s ‘rock bottom’ into a transformative new stage.
Sine himself referred to the naked woman from the album’s artwork as ‘an angel of death’. The grim reaper obviously represent death or an ending of some sort (a symbolic death); plus, we have that ‘heaven’ inscription with the not-so-subtle directions painted beneath it which represent a new phase. Good or bad (heaven or hell), nothing is certain at this point… but it doesn’t look good, judging from the floor looking up.
Of interest is that this is the final album by L’eclipse Nue to be recorded in Japan. Sine recently, for personal reasons, had to leave Tokyo which was his home for many years, and move back to the United States. In many ways, Zavin is the end of an era for L’eclipse Nue, and the beginning of a new one. And Daniel Sine takes us along on his journey. This is one of those rare artists who truly bring themselves into their art and don’t simply put on a mask or play a character. The pain, the confusion, the fury: All are real, and they combine to create something that I wish I’d seen more in art.
01) Portal 503
02) Affection in an Abyss
03) Beneath the Hooves of Metatron
04) Ego Incinerator
05) Screaming Until I Go Deaf
06) Crawling to Heaven on Abscessed Limbs
07) Waiting Beside a Pit of Sheep’s Blood
09) How Do You Get to Heaven?
10) Chthonic Lament