Schloss Tegal – Psychometry

Schloss Tegal – Psychometry DLP La Esencia Records 2019

Thirteen long years have transpired since the last Schloss Tegal album, so you could have been forgiven for thinking a new album was an impossibility – yet here it is. Granted there was a two track 7” ep Procession Of The Dead (Undead) released in 2017, but that release did not include new music, rather featured a remix of an old track and another live recording from 2008.

Based on first impressions of Psychometry, the stunning sleeve design of the gatefold vinyl with spot varnished geometric patterns needs to be acknowledged. In my estimation this visual presentation does absolute justice the album’s conceptual themes, which themselves hark back to 1999 Black Static Transmission. Although the artwork of that earlier album let it down somewhat in term of feeling slightly amateurish in early computer-based design. Sonically speaking, Psychometry also feels to have clear linage to Black Static Transmission rather than the direct sound employed on 2006’s album The Myth Of Meat (which is explained by its source material having been drawn from sounds recorded in a working abattoir). But apart from focusing on sonic differences, Psychometry still embodies a particular sound established and easily recognized as that of Schloss Tegal. This means it is too sonically forceful to be described as dark ambient, but equally is not abrasive enough to become noise/industrial.

From the outset the album delivers grim maelstrom drones blend with dour muted melodies, while other erupting fissure of sounds seem to articulate the tearing at the hidden fabric of one sub-conscious (refer to Pyschpompus and Incorporeal Being as prime examples). The Invalid Earth is an early standout with its throbbing ritual pulse, swirling drones and disembodied radio chatter. Krononaut (Time Zero) articulates further churning emanations from the void, complete with prominent EVP voices, and based on their scratchy semi-unintelligible it gives off an unnerving and eerie effect (EVP recordings appear on a number of tracks throughout). Black Vessel then delivers a foreboding tumult of layered electronics and is one of the more direct and heavy tracks on display. Moving towards the end of the album Body Farm delivers a tensile, and shrilly cinematic composition, but which is far too short in run time. As for the concluding track We All Become Gods blends deep cinematic tinged textures with widescreen drones and (again) with an unnerving disembodied voice.

Over their discography Schloss Tegal have excelled at sonically articulating a psychic space which blends the real and perceivable with an ‘unknowable otherness’ of inter-dimensional states. Without question Psychometry is another excellent example of this approach. In a general sense this feel of being a collection of individual and separate tracks rather than the sprawling and interlinking movements on Black Static Transmission. But this is only a compositional observation and not in any way a criticism. Not to call Psychometry a ‘return to form’, as that would allude to some sort of prior drop in quality of output, rather Psychometry is a welcomed and long-awaited continuation of unique sound and approach that Schloss Tegal have always displayed. Recommended and absolutely worthy of investment in its stunning physical edition.

Trepaneringsritualen – Papist Pretender

TRP PP

Trepaneringsritualen – Papist Pretender 2 x 7”EP La Esencia 2014

Here is yet another item to add to the Trepaneringsritualen (TxRxP) collection which is special edition vinyl issued to commemorate a May, 2014 live performance in Barcelona, Spain.  Being released in two versions the first is the ‘standard’ single 7”EP in an edition of 350 copies and a more ‘limited’ double 7”EP version in an edition of 169 copies.  The packaging is beautifully presented which features a large fold out poster cover, multiple inserts and postcards and 1 x black and 1 x white 7” EP.  Also to provide context for the release’s theme, the cover includes a cryptic alphabetical analysis of the phrase ‘Vicarius Filii Dei’ (which refers to Saint Peter, generally regarded as the first Pope by the Catholic Church), effectively equalling its numerical value to 666 (aka ‘the number of the beast’ as nominated within the Book of Revelations).

The title track leads off the release where ‘Papist Pretender’ adheres to TxRxP’s recent song based focus, yet still retaining a dark ritualised death industrial sound (…of note the title’s initials mirrors the initials of the recent full length ‘Perfection & Permanence’. Coincidence or by design?).  Here the lyrics and the hoarse distorted drawl of the vocal delivery follow a verse/ chorus/ verse format, which closely follow the heavy militant percussive thrum.  Side B brings the track ‘Feral Me’ and although adheres to a song based style, it opts for a tribalised death industrial sound complete with swaying rhythm and sporadic breaks of rolling tribal drums, where the layered vocals are a particular standout.

For the second 7”EP, Side C features a cover version of a classic track from The Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud (…for those unaware were a pre Der Blutharsch project).  Whereas the original untitled version (…from the album ‘Were You Of Silver, Were You Of Gold’), had a folky and slightly up-tempo marching medieval melody, here cover version is faithful to a point, noting that TxRxP has slowed the speed slightly to remove the up-tempo mood and to create a much heavier and darker atmosphere.  Here the main melody prominently remains, but the militant rhythm also feels more of a solemn march to war, where TxRxP clearly places a strong and individual stamp on the song, particularly due to the thumping rhythmic structure and trademark garbled and rasping vocalisations.  The final of the four tracks is ‘Castrate Christ (The Sixth Hour)’, which is an alternate version of ‘Castrate Christ’ which is featured on the recent full length ‘Perfection & Permanence’.  This version has slowed the song to an extremely slowed crawling pace, which clearly differs from the urgent rhythmic pummelling of the original.  In fact on first listen this sounded if it was a 45rpm song being played at 33rpm speed, but once accustomed to the catatonic pace, the accompaniment of a slow soundscape drone only adds to the brooding atmosphere.

With the myriad of TxRxP releases issued in recent years and without necessarily repeating themselves the project manages to morph and twist their sound into interesting directions, whilst still keeping a foot firmly in a northern European ritual death industrial style.  Another special release in TxRxP’s canon.