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wmmberger on 10/19/2012 at 09:00AM

An Iron Broom to Sweep The Earth: Grafvolluth Live

©Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

If you want hard blast-beats that under-ride high melodic guitar figures, vocals that seem to scream up an impossibly deep Norwegian well, and slower, lurching sections that evoke anthemic, latter-era Bathory, you need look no further than Grafvolluth. They do an incredible job honoring the traditional Scandinavian Black Metal sound of the early 90s.

As someone who caught up with the genre a few years late, I was initially blown away by the incredible variety of what passed as "black metal," and records like Ulver's Nattens Madrigal, as well as Carpathian Forest's Black Shining Leather, blew my mind and ears, as I walked home from the BART station around Lake Merritt in Oakland, hugging my Discman, and saying hails to the birds. ...It was an honor for me personally then, to host Grafvolluth, as their music takes me back to this initial enthusiasm I had for black metal—while still being very new, raw, original, and in its way, distinctly US-made.

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wmmberger on 01/15/2011 at 04:59PM

Dark and Salacious Visions; Lussuria LIVE on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Standing in the rain, hands deep in raincoat pockets. This ruin of crumbled stone and ivy was once a bath, the public kind, so rarely seen now in our age of modesty. We're in provincial Europe somewhere. The ghosts, of beautiful, naked women, still frolic amongst the apparent decrepitude. A sense of loss, unbearable loss, and almost inevitable melancholy, accompany the rumblings of lust in one's blood, conjured up by mind's-eye pictures of what once happened here. When the wind blows a certain way, you can even smell the soft essence of virgin skin, and other subtle perfumes, almost detected. Such is the salacious, heady ambience, the visions conjured by the music of Lussuria.

Perhaps it's Jim Mroz' dual experience as a black metal musician that enables him to bring the heaviness in such an unexpected way, where what might strike the inattentive listener as stasis comes across ultimately as some very visceral sonic statements, both on his tapes, and unquestionably in this live session, aired on WFMU January 7, the first My Castle of Quiet live guest of our new year 2011.

I first heard Lussuria on a split cassette with Obscure, released by amourtout productions in France (the label run by Shantidas, of Aluk Todolo and Diamatregon.) It was my more-favored side of the tape—a patient, rumbling soundtrack to a nightmare, with an immersed narrative...something about angels. Having named his project after an ultra-obscure Joe D'Amato sexploitation film, Lussuria's Jim Mroz shares this writer's passion for the unusual, much-maligned and misunderstood subset of haunted, twisted, visually stunning cinema of the 1970s and 80s of which D'Amato was a major player. Even were this not the case, I would still have been taken in immediately by Lussuria's resonant, opaque sonic creations, coming out of Jim's mixer like coded maps of the subconscious.

The Lussuria releases (cassettes by Hospital Productions, amourtout, Destructive Industries, and Razors and Medicine) are chilling stuff, even troubling—like listening to a feeling always just out of reach. These sets, rendered live and expertly engineered by Bob Bellerue, certainly align with that description. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess, for rendering my photo of Jim (see above), appropriate to the translucent and mournful qualities of the music. This was a bit of a coup for me personally, as I've been an admirer of Lussuria's recordings since first hearing. I hope you enjoy these pieces, and receive them in the spirit in which they were rendered.

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