Download: Metallic Math Rockers Liturgy’s “Generation”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

Brooklyn black metal astral-projectors Liturgy have been the perfect blend of gut-grinding aggression and hypnotic ecstasy ever since their transcendent debut Renihilation–an album that one of the earliest YIMBY columns gushed was “euphoria through dissonance, repetition and volume; turning metal nightmares into something ready for the Dream House.” Aesthethica, due May 10 on Thrill Jockey, keeps their trance-inducing roar, but counters the black metal with the jarring, head-fucky rhythms of math-rock–think Don Cab or Oxes played at hallucination-inducing speeds. Better yet, think less Branca blear, more Stravinsky stabs.

“Generation” is what frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix considers “the keystone of the whole record,” a head-knocky repetition of an off-kilter riff. As best as I can figure at this breakneck speed, it’s a highest-velocity trade-off of 7/8 and 10/8 riffs, with one quite satisfying extra 7/4 on every third turn-around–you know, just to keep it from being a total exercise in temple-massaging hypertension. Combine 17 and 17 with the accommodating 14 support beam, and you get an even 48–which translates back into a swinging 4/4 groove. This basic rhythmic pattern is scattered all over the rest of the record, but here, Liturgy rides it out for seven minutes as a mantra, as a meditation, as plaything, as dissonant channel into worlds beyond.

Q&A: Liturgy frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix on “Generation”

What is “Generation” about?
“Generation” is an adoration of the most primordial operations: concatenation, permutation, interpolation. … The idea was to create a cross between Rhys Chatham and Meshuggah. Or a Meshuggah song with one note instead of two notes.

What does this song’s sense of triumph and ecstasy represent for you? How do you feel when you play it?
This is my favorite song to play live because it has the most groove. Performing it presents the satisfaction of locking into a breakdown and the satisfaction of a gradual buildup, both at the same time.

You guys still have a focus on hypnosis and repetition, but it’s increasingly more of a math-rock/Stravinsky vein. What records inspired this particular shift in sound?
I’ve always wanted to make a sort of black metal that has lots of explosions and jolts in it. On Renihilation we had the explosions, but they were more inexact and freewheeling, more part of the performance. For the new record the idea was to create the same effect but have it be composed out a little more carefully. The influences aren’t really new. In fact it’s mostly music that I no longer listen to much but loved really intensely at a time and am finally finding a way to digest and incorporate into our output. Meshuggah is an example. I like that you mention Stravinsky, actually. The kind of eddies of jolted repetition in Petrushka, The Rite [of Spring], Les Noces… those pieces really shaped the way I feel music, what I want and expect from it. He creates these moments of ecstatic frenzy that are strangely glitchy, these wild stabs, but composed out very carefully. Dionysiac experience created using Apollonian technique. Though my Stravinsky phase was years ago. Converge’s Jane Doe is a similar influence. Anyway I don’t think of it as a change in direction at all, just a development from embryo to fetus.

Now that you’re dealing with more odd time-signatures, is there more anxiety that the song might fall apart?

There was a little bit of hubbub about you guys being a metal band on Thrill Jockey. What’s the most ridiculous reaction you’ve had to that move?
Man, there are people that despise our band. Within the black metal scene there have been plenty of seriously rabid haters from the start, people offended by the fact that we’re situating black metal in a wider musical context. Or something. We’ve already heard it all before. I think those people really don’t grasp how little their criticism means to us. I always expected it and I even kind of enjoy seeing it. But as for the label, I think if anything our joining up with Thrill Jockey has been a sigh of relief on all sides, because our musical project really makes more sense shoulder to shoulder with acts like Nobukazu Takemura, Dan Higgs, Boredoms, Lichens. And people who identify more broadly with experimental music tend to get what we’re doing right away. I mean, it is really important to me that our music is black metal, but more and more I feel alienated by the bigotry that is a part of that scene. It’s not really a community we ultimately want to have anything to do with, insofar as it really is a forum for reactionary politics and so on. The most interesting and ridiculous reaction from a hater that comes to mind is an unofficial music video to our new song that someone put up. Basically it’s just scenes of men kissing, synced up to our song. Honestly I almost died laughing when I saw it, but it’s also like, “Really?”

What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
I get the Hanna Jang sandwich from the Hanna Deli on Union and Metropolitan as often as I can.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 5, 2011

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