Firstly, I would like to apologise to all of the artists who feature in this edition of The Round Up Tapes. My desire to write has been tempered by life of late and finding the time or even the energy to sit down and form coherent thoughts on music has been something that has been lacking over the last six months or so. I listen to everything that people send me, but I often forget to reply or even miss emails as they fall in the spam folder only to be found several weeks later. I try extremely hard to not be rude but my memory is not the best.
Without further ado, here is the seventh volume of record submissions that have found their way to me.
Asenath Blake – Zoëtic Songs
Zoëtic Songs marks the second foray into the underground of Welsh artist Asenath Blake, who creates a sound that lies where the occult and black metal intersect. Taking inspiration from Austin Osman Spare and Arthur Machen, as well as others well versed in magick, Blake uses her music to channel another world which dances on the fringes of the fire that makes up much of this second EP.
Opening on “Yelda Paterson’s Teachings,” Blake immediately presents a sound that is raw and primeval. Her voice is mixed into synthesised lines and radiant textures that call to mind the sound of post-black metal, yet the music is somewhat removed from that sub-genre in its manic vocal delivery that is affected by unknown power, possessed by the other that has been evoked by the spells and witchcraft that lie at the heart of Zoëtic Songs.
“Elemental Materialisation” utilises martial drum patterns to bring about a sense of order to the subsequent chaos that seeps through the shrieks of Blake while the closing of “A Life of Poverty and Sorcery” allows for tenuous beauty to peer through the darkness in its shimmering synths and cascading guitar passages.
Having a basic knowledge of the occult, it is not this writers place to talk about the contents of the album in that regard but it is clear that Blake is deeply entrenched in that world and that this music is a vessel of sorts, a way to create a new world through art and to reach new planes of existence. Music is often cathartic or transformative and Zoëtic Songs is surely the way in which this artist makes a different connection to the realms beyond what we know as truth.
Listen and purchase here.
Muka – Patologija Poniznosti
Laced with anguish, disgusted with the acts of those who assume power and uninspired by their bleak surroundings, Croatia’s Muka are a band who filter their rage and agony through the lens of blackened death/doom, a sound which fits their disintegrating worldview and ideas of hopelessness. Their third record is one which pushes aggression to the fore through Ivan Borčić’s guttural voice that dredges images of deep chasms, an abyss that lies at the edge of the world and reflects only darkness.
It is this voice that guides us on Muka’s journey through dissonance as Patologija poniznosti (or The Pathology of Humility in English) weaves sly grooves on “Unatoč svemu” and presents a case for controlled rage affecting change during the heady stomp of “Čezneš.” As the song pushes forwards, it takes on new elements — beginning on sinister rhythms that slither between the spaces left by Borčić’s growls, the song eventually twists into faster passages that blaze with wrath, a tangible feeling that pulses throughout Patologija poniznosti and beyond.
That palpable tension is felt keenly as “U zabludi” moves as a diatribe against those who offer themselves to gods, the promise of salvation close but ultimately unattainable. Muka’s manifesto speaks of such an outlook – they say there are here to “…arouse and awake your humanity, your striving for freedom and rejection of false existence, flawed idols and deceptive personalities” – and it is clear that in their music the band have found a way to defeat that mindset within themselves. Suffering is something that we all experience and Muka are fighting against the idea that suffering is key to finding religious acceptance.
Listen and purchase here.
Vipère – Sombre Marche
Vipère are not the only band to have created music during the extreme lockdown periods that rippled across the world in the beginning of 2020, and they certainly aren’t the first to meld punk aesthetics with black metal. Here, on Sombre Marche, the French duo have created a sound that is fuelled by rage and darkness and on their debut EP that feeling comes through vocals that are laced with spite and guitar lines that move with heat.
This four track release showcases Vipère as a band that are unafraid to be confrontational — there are no elements of beauty to be found here, only the desolation of finding out that life is not what you thought it would be and that pain is king. The final track, “Sombre marche” is rendered in folk instrumentation yet is shadowed by the darkness that the band have threaded through their work — even this moment of respite feels doomed. Lyrically, the EP is written almost entirely in French and themes are perhaps a little lost in translation when the nuances of the language are not well known. Still, Vipère are intersting and Sombre Marche is an invigorating listen during dark days.
Listen and purchase here.