Aural Fixation: February 2017 | Haute Macabre

Aural Fixation: February 2017

image by Becky Munich

Here’s what Haute Macabre writers have had on heavy rotation

S. Elizabeth is currently swooning over…

Citizens of Glass, Agnes Obel

Citizens of Glass: Agnes Obel
All of Agnes Obel’s efforts are stark, fragile, breathtaking affairs and her latest album, Citizen of Glass, is no different in that respect. Exploring the German concept of gläserner bürger meaning “the glass citizen” (a legal term that refers to privacy — if somebody is glass, every detail about them is known) Obel’s ethereal voice swoops and soars in tandem with obscure and otherworldly instruments on these ghostly lullabies whose purpose seems less to soothe you to sleep and more to summon you from the depths of slumber.

Mausoleum, Myrkur

Mausoleum: Myrkur
Every lover of darkness needs an album recorded in a haunted mausoleum on their shelf, right? To be honest, I was previously not totally sold on the particular brand of darkness that is the Nordic one-woman black/folk metal act of Myrkur, but this live, luminous acoustic album recorded in Oslo’s Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum stole my breath away and made a convert of me. The sound is wonderfully dramatic and utterly transportive when one imagines these chilling chants and gentle choruses echoing round a cold, dimly lit tomb covered in morbid frescos that depict the circle of human life from conception till death. If you’re a strange soul who has ever wondered what a black metal Hildegard von Bingen sounds like, this is for you.

Twin Peaks original score

Twin Peaks Original Score LP
Approved by both director David Lynch & composer Angelo Badalamenti, the eerie score for Twin peaks is back in print for the first time in 25 years, courtesy horror-themed label Death Waltz Recording Company and available through Mondo. Pre-ordered back in August, I finally received the gorgeous album sometime in November and have been both entranced and thoroughly unsettled ever since–it is truly a work of remarkable contrasts. And I am happy to say that listening to the sickeningly sweet, strangely innocuous motif of the Twin Peaks intro still gives me me visceral fits of uneasy nausea, just as it did so many years ago.

Maika is listening to…


Les Revenants OST: Mogwai
The title sequence of the French supernatural horror series Les Revenants is one of my all-time favorites. It perfectly encapsulates the dreamy, mysterious, and terribly melancholy feel of the show.

So much of that comes from Mogwai’s original soundtrack, which also stands up wonderfully as an album on its own. I love this haunting TV series, but it wouldn’t be half as compelling and unsettling were it not for its post-rock soundtrack. There’s a very good reason for this: the soundtrack was composed before the show was filmed in order to create a very clear mood to inform the production of the series. And thus, with its carefully textured compositions for guitar, piano, xylophone, and drums, we have a beautifully brooding, quietly ominous, deceptively gentle, and utterly haunted soundscape for an equally haunted and disconsolate series.

Paradise Valley Grouper

Paradise Valley: Grouper
As far as I’m concerned, new music from Grouper is always cause for celebration. Liz Harris’ latest release is not a full album, but the two dreamy tracks on the Paradise Valley EP are so achingly beautiful that I’ve been listening to them over and over and over again. Harris’ ethereal vocals, heartbreakingly haunting, are a diaphanous ghost hovering over me as I willingly sink into a deep darkened space. Meanwhile her gently reverberating guitar, with its gradually slowing strum, feels like a melancholy ritual lead by Harris’ phantom fingers. This is some of the sweetest sadness I’ve ever heard. Paradise Valley is a beautiful reminder that Grouper’s music isn’t listened to. It bypasses the ears and goes straight to the heart.

Sonya is listening to … 

Reign: Golden Gardens
Reign: Golden Gardens
Golden Gardens is the project of dear friend Aubrey Rachel Violet Bramble and my partner Gregg Alexander Joseph Neville — I wrote in detail about this album for Haute Macabre when it was released last October, and it remains in constant rotation. It’s usually necessary to forcibly pry ancient Nick Cave and Manic Street Preachers records from my can’t-handle-new-music hands, so this is a serious compliment. The band describes themselves as “a mystical duo up from the nocturnal underground, weaving dreamscapes and anthems for magical minds,” and you’re sure to love Reign if you, like me, crave synths with your sirens and sorceresses.

The Wanting: Nightmare Forest

The Wanting: Nightmare Fortress
I’ve always appreciated the eccentric genre names assigned to bands too peculiar to simply be rock: electroclash, dreampop, witchhouse. Darkwave group Nightmare Fortress is a heavenly amalgam of electric guitars, synths, and beat machines, and Alicia Amiri’s vocals are at times reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux or X-Mal Deutschland — probably not in any literal sense, but in a way that makes listening to them feel like youth and staying up late and chain-smoking clove cigarettes. Sadly, Nightmare Fortress split up in 2016; band members Amiri and Colin Roper are now making music as Year of Death, a “downtempo electronic deathwave project” that’s still too new to have songs online.

What’s in your ears this month?