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The Wisdom of Silence: Blake Viola on Tele.S.Therion’s Acousmatic Black Metal and “Luzifers Abschied”

by Blake Viola

See More of Blake’s Multimedia Work as “Bodies of Ash” here.

Tele.s.therion is a musical project of descent, a dark eye of chthonic origin veiled through the wisdom of silence. What is taken is an acousmatic approach to the realization of aural experience, using the veil of sourceless material in order to promote a deeper experience of sound on its own terms. These concepts stem from the Pythagorean silence and the limiting of visibility in order to better see and comprehend with an inner light. Blind performers working in isolation on their own; nothing but a concrete score without notions of thematic elements or traditional musical notations. They are brought together as organic elements in a greater scheme only to be realized later after the individual improvisational performances are carried out in the silence of isolation. These ideas, in this instance in the context of the creation of an aural experience, hearken to the very inner nature of cosmic creation. Blind individual elements combine in strange swirls, molded and mutated by unseen forces. This is the fire that Heraclitus mentions churning in the depths of the void—that spark that ignites a violation of the stillness of pre-cosmic slumber.

Luzifers Abschied (Lucifer’s Farewell) is the final piece of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s opera Samstag—Saturday, the day of Lucifer—from his Licht opera cycle (a seven-part opera cycle conceived for the seven days of the week consisting of twenty-nine hours of music). Stockhausen described this entire cycle as an “eternal spiral” since the week for him has no beginning nor end. Luzifers Abschied was conceived as a type of exorcism, a final liberation, that begins with a choir of monks singing the text Salutatio Virtutum by St Francis of Assissi and culminating in the release of a caged wild blackbird who flies away.

The relations of Tele.s.therion’s work to this masterpiece are abstractly thematic and internal. There are no obvious connections besides the title. Yet, if one listens, they can feel the presence of a new take on this current that Stockhausen tapped, the works sharing an inner realm through the use of the previously mentioned blind methods of swirling creation. This work is the most intense so far of the endeavors of Tele.s.therion. The album’s opening track, “Eingang | Periode I-IV,” created such a shock to my being I had to resume listening to the rest of the album the next day. There is an overwhelming complexity of layers and richness here, and in order to feel and process these things without losing them altogether and shutting them out I needed a day to properly interiorize it all. The intensity moves through your body, the sound peels through your nerves and spine, dipping into your brain and organs of perception, the goose bumps piling up on the back of your neck. This induced a minor psychosomatic ecstatic experience similar to the experiences I’ve had listening to Rudolf Eb.er’s sound-nectar collage works, for lack of a better description. Yet, where Rudolf Eb.er’s works act from an individual bodily perspective as concentrated minimal pinpointed scalpel wounds upon the doors of ecstatic perception, Tele.s.therion overwhelms with a dense monumental structure of cosmic orchestral proportions. The sounds of the unseen overflow from above and below, striking and overwhelming the core of one’s being. Unlike the first, the tracks that follow flowed quickly, like water over glass. The initial setting required a type of shaking of the organism, the shock of cracking and bursting the floodgates allowing the rest to do their jobs without resistance. Throughout the piece, the veil of Pythagorean silence holds true. The sources of the sounds are difficult to pinpoint; they seep into one without distinguishing perceptions to block their effect. There are a few vague recognitions such as the distorted howls and mutations of voices and the growls flowing in and out of a bass, but overall these are drowned by the sounds of the unknown, the veil that allows only key glimpses here and there. Though in the last track we hear, out of nowhere through the cacophony, the calls of the crow, a reference to that last liberation in the night, followed by cathedral bells. The control over the veil of silence is key here, as the calls and bells are the most distinct and recognizable sounds in the entire album, and they are the only more obvious elements one can detect that directly reference Stockhausen’s original composition. Towards the end of the piece, Stockhausen utilizes the calls of the blackbird that is released, and later he uses cathedral bells and the calls of small birds as a closing to this cathartic work. The focal point of the crow calls and tolling bells is expertly placed in the Tele.s.therion piece as a final crescendo, demonstrating a mastery over these ideas of silence and veiled perception. The calls and tolls do not interrupt the internal picture this piece impresses upon the soul, nor is the reference heavy-handed; rather, it gives a nod to this work of genius that has inspired Tele.s.therion so deeply and heightens the effect the final track as a last liberating focal point cutting through one’s being. This is a journey of light, an illumination in blackness that takes one through the tears of creation seeping from the tombs of the earth and dripping from the stars above. This album is not to be overlooked, a work of great importance for these circles of sound art and experimentation and music that defies the need for classification, save for the unifying principle of blackness and darkness.

A supplement to this release is the access to a “virtual Acousmonium,” an interactive sound mixer console designed by Tele.s.therion, changing the listening experience into a more dynamic creative act.

Minotauro Records