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Topics - Eleison

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1
Metal / Most metal albums are too long...
« on: December 03, 2013, 11:40:30 PM »
This was a thought that occurred to me over the last few days.  It seems to me that, even in very good metal albums, there are nearly always tracks that are redundant insofar as they are not necessary in order for the album to express its concept.  I could take any number of canonical metal albums, take out half the tracks and end up with a more focused work of art.

It seems that metal still suffers from the popular music syndrome of thinking of an album as a collection of individual songs, enough to fill a CD.  This is in stark contrast the the classical way of organising music where you have a series of contrasting movements, each integral to the structure of the work.  In the Classical period 3-4 movements was the norm and these movements usually had different forms, tempi, keys etc. 

Hvis Lyset Tar Oss is one of the very few albums that touches on this concept, each track is an integral part of the structure of the overall work.

In my mind if you have more than two tracks on an album which essentially follow the same basic structure and concept, then you have redundancy.  People creating metal should stop worrying about trying to write enough music to match preconceived notions of how long an album should be and simply focus their best ideas into stronger tracks that don't repeat too much of what is found on other tracks in the same work.  If this means 10 - 20 min works then so be it.  It should be remembered that in classical music being able to write small-scale works was always considered a pre-requisite for writing larger works, which are often just more drawn out versions of their smaller counterparts.

2
Interzone / The "Dark Ages"
« on: April 11, 2013, 02:17:56 PM »
I often see common misconceptions about the medieval period advanced on this forum, which I find somewhat unusual as understanding the cultural achievements of the middle-ages is key to understanding the failings of modern society.  Although it is widely known among scholars that the idea of the 'dark-ages' is a myth developed during the Renaissance as a way for intellectuals of the time to assert their own superiority I still see this idea pop up on this forum now and then, which I can only assume is related to the anti-Christian sentiments of many metal fans.

Some quotes from the wiki article, not a good source I know (don't have others at hand right now) but keep in mind that 'progressives' have nothing to gain from recognizing the cultural achievements of the middle-ages...

Quote
Originally the term (Dark Ages) characterized the bulk of the Middle Ages, or roughly the 6th to 13th centuries, as a period of intellectual darkness between extinguishing the "light of Rome" after the end of Late Antiquity, and the rise of the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century.  This definition is still found in popular usage, but increased recognition of the accomplishments of the Middle Ages has led to the label being restricted in application. Since the 20th century, it is frequently applied to the earlier part of the era, the Early Middle Ages (c. 5th–10th century).  However, many modern scholars who study the era tend to avoid the term altogether for its negative connotations, finding it misleading and inaccurate for any part of the Middle Ages.

***

The medieval period is frequently caricatured as supposedly a "time of ignorance and superstition" which placed "the word of religious authorities over personal experience and rational activity."  However, rationality was increasingly held in high regard as the Middle Ages progressed. The historian of science Edward Grant, writes that "If revolutionary rational thoughts were expressed [in the 18th century], they were made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities".  Furthermore, David Lindberg says that, contrary to common belief, "the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led".

The caricature of the period is also reflected in a number of more specific notions. For instance, a claim that was first propagated in the 19th century and is still very common in popular culture is the supposition that all people in the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat. This claim is mistaken.  In fact, lecturers in the medieval universities commonly advanced evidence in favor of the idea that the Earth was a sphere.  Lindberg and Ronald Numbers write: "There was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference".

Other misconceptions such as: "the Church prohibited autopsies and dissections during the Middle Ages", "the rise of Christianity killed off ancient science", and "the medieval Christian church suppressed the growth of natural philosophy", are all cited by Ronald Numbers as examples of widely popular myths that still pass as historical truth, although they are not supported by current historical research.  They help maintain the idea of a "Dark Age" spanning through the medieval period.

3
Interzone / Doom and Gloom
« on: April 07, 2012, 04:27:29 PM »
I often talk about what would be required to prevent modern society from self-destruction.  

In reality I don't believe that anything will prevent a gradual decay into ruin.  People have talked about this for 100 years and nothing has slowed the onset of internal decay, humans have succumbed to a terminal ideological cancer.  Eventually something will destabilize this situation triggering either total annihilation or rebirth, or regression into a primitive state where we may be outstripped by apes in evolution and become an endangered species.  This doesn't really affect my spirits, as I don't place an absolute value on the continued physical existence of any species, the order of nature will continue.  There is no reason not to try to implement good ideas, just know that work must be performed for its own sake and not for its fruits as the Hindus would say.  The definition of heroism is to do something because it is right even when the situation is completely hopeless, that time is now.

This was my attempt at a motivational speech, I guess I don't have an aptitude for it.

4
Interzone / Christian Esoterism
« on: April 04, 2012, 03:44:33 AM »
The problem of Christianity is this, it was founded as an esoteric order, with Jesus' teachings to the apostles, but does not possess from the outset a formal exoterism or social law like Judaism and Islam.  This meant that as soon as it began to grow, these planes were confused.  Esoterism continued to exist in Christianity (eg. Pseudo-Dionysius and Meister Eckhart), but without ever attaining any significant formal independence and so eventually it ceased to exist, and all intelligence left the religion, at least in the West.  Christianity in the West is now an empty shell, completely devoid of metaphysical content or beauty, and therefore most Westerners do not really understand its depths.  As such intelligent thinkers tend to favor religions where the philosophical content is more explicit, particularly Hinduism and Taoism.  I wasn't exactly sure what to include here but I think the following quote summarises the metaphysical foundations of the Christian perspective nicely.

Quote
"If we start from the incontestable idea that the essence of all religions is the truth of the Absolute with its human consequences, mystical as well as social, the question may be asked how the Christian religion satisfies this definition; for its central content seems to be not God as such, but Christ—that is, not so much the nature of the divine Being as its human manifestation. Thus a Patristic voice aptly proclaimed: “God became man that man might become God”; this is the Christian way of saying that “Brahma is real; the world is appearance”. Christianity, instead of simply juxtaposing the Absolute and the contingent, the Real and the illusory, proposes from the outset a reciprocity between the one and the other: it sees the Absolute a priori in relation to man, and man—correlatively —is defined in conformity with this reciprocity, which is not only metaphysical, but also dynamic, voluntary, eschatological. It is true that Judaism proceeds in an analogous fashion, but to a lesser degree: it does not define God in relation to the human drama, hence starting from contingency, but it does establish a quasi-absolute relationship between God and His people: God is “the God of Israel”; the symbiosis is immutable; however, God remains God, and man remains man; there is no “human God” or “divine man”.

Be that as it may, the reciprocity posited by Christianity is metaphysically transparent, and it is necessarily so, on pain of being an error. Unquestionably, once we are aware of the existence of contingency or relativity, we must know that the Absolute is interested in it in one way or another, and this means first of all that contingency must be prefigured in the Absolute, and then that the Absolute must be reflected in contingency; this is the ontological foundation of the mysteries of Incarnation and Redemption. The rest is a matter of modality: Christianity proposes on the one hand an abrupt opposition between the “flesh” and the “spirit”, and on the other hand—and this is its esoteric side—its option for “inward- ness” as against the outwardness of legal prescriptions and as against the “letter that killeth”. In addition, it operates with that central and profoundly characteristic sacrament which is the Eucharist: God does not limit Himself to promulgating a Law; He descends to earth and makes Himself Bread of life and Drink of immortality.

In relation to Judaism, Christianity comprises an aspect of esoterism through three elements: inwardness, quasi-unconditional charity, the sacraments. The first element consists in more or less disregarding outward practices and accentuating the inward attitude: what matters is to worship God “in spirit and in truth”; the second element corresponds to the Hindu ahimsa, “non-harming”, which can go so far as to renounce our legitimate rights, hence deliberately to step out of the mesh of human interests and social justice; it is to offer the left cheek to him who has struck the right and always to give more than one has to. Islam marks a return to Mosaic “realism”, while integrating Jesus into its perspective as a prophet of Sufic “poverty”; be that as it may, Christianity itself, in order to be able to assume the function of a world religion, had to attenuate its original rigor and present itself as a socially realistic legalism, at least to a certain degree."

            Frithjof Schuon - Outline of the Christic Message

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Metal / Hessian Lifestyles
« on: April 04, 2012, 03:15:02 AM »
A common question is, if I believe "x", how should I live?  This is certainly a serious issue for a hessian in modern society, I can think of three potential ways...

The first is the one advocated here, the middle way.  Listen to good metal, support good causes, get into a career where you can do something constructive, raise a family etc.  This will be the most common path for intelligent metalheads.

The next two options are for minorities but should still be viewed as valid.

Firstly, withdrawal from modern society, a metal monasticism so to speak.  These people would spend their time advancing their spiritual insight, performing metal rituals and undertaking academic tasks necessary for the advancement of metal.

Finally, become a metal anti-martyr.  Work yourself into a frenzy listening to Slayer and then go on a murderous rampage.  This should also be viewed as a valid option for hessians even though few will undertake the task.

More suggestions...

6
Interzone / What can be done?
« on: October 21, 2010, 05:23:58 AM »
When Rene Guenon wrote "The Crisis of the Modern World" nearly 100 years ago, he outlined how it might be possible for the decadence of Western civilisation to be reversed.  His idea was that an intellectual elite would be formed which would gain influence, probably through the Catholic Church, which at the time was not completely modernised.  He also said it would be necessary for this elite to be in close contact with spiritual authorities from the East, which was also not wholly modernised, in order to succeed.  He stated that if this did not occur then it would be impossible to avoid the downfall of Western civilisation.

Now let us analyse the current situation.  The Catholic Church, as well as losing all credibility by rejecting its own traditions has lost most of its influence.  In fact Christianity in general seems to be in inevitable decline due to the uncompromising individualism of most Westerners.  The Eastern world has mostly accepted modernity, and its spiritual centres are also losing their influence.  Even Islam, which seems most resistant to modernisation does not seem to possess the power to stop Islamic nations losing their traditional character.  We may see a situation where supposedly Islamic nations no longer have any relation to the principles of their religion, as is the case in most 'Christian' nations.

To me these factors seem to signal that the end of modern civlisation cannot be prevented, modern trends cannot be reversed.  What then should we do?  Is this an excuse to revert to solipsism.  I say no.  Although I might qualify this by saying that I do not believe it is constructive to try to 'fix' modern civilisation, and certainly not by participating in modern politics, which corrupts all of the ideas it touches (look what happened to corrupt.org).  It is my opinion that the best thing to do in this situation it to become active in the distribution of truth, by whatever means seems fitting, because to me it is selfish to keep knowledge to oneself.  The best thing to do is to make informatin available to people who will be able to understand, rather than leaving them stranded in the spiritual desert of the modern world.  For me www.anus.com played a key role by providing me with information without which I would have become either a useless drone or a career criminal (not sure which).

Also I have noticed recently a trend amoung many Christians to recognise the value of their spritual inheritance from the middle-ages.  It has been said by a number of traditionalists that spiritual knowledge will always be accessable to men who seek it, even to the end of this cycle of human existence.  I believe there is a possiblity that the Church could regain its traditional character and in so doing be insulated from modern society, it would probably have relatively few participants, but it would also function like an ark which would preserve knowledge until a time when it would become functional again.  I have recently decided to dedicate my life to restoring the traditional character of the Church, even if this is not possible it seems to me to be the most useful way to spend my time on this earth.

7
Metal / Mahler's 8th
« on: August 22, 2010, 11:41:08 AM »
Generally speaking I sympathize with the Mahler critics around here.  I don't enjoy most of his work, however, all my cynicism was shattered when I recently saw a performance of the 8th.  This is surely the crowning achievement of romantic music.  I love the fact that this piece does away with the pessimistic, individualist side of romanticism and focuses completely on the reverent/faustian aspect, the second movement is actually a setting of the last scene from Goethe's Faust.  Also this holds together compositionally much better than most Mahler, the themes are integrated so coherently that it is reminiscent of Beethoven, in fact this seems to me to be the logical successor to Beethoven's 9th.  

Although, due to my own philosophical views, I still hold some reservations about this piece, it conforms almost exactly to what most people on this forum seem to think music should be.

audiofile section

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Audiofile / Barraque, Jean
« on: August 13, 2010, 03:57:00 PM »
Barraque, Jean: Rapidshare, Blogspot, Megaupload

Barraque, Jean

Jean Barraque - Sonata for Piano (Megaupload)
Pi-Hsien Chen, 1998

Barraque's colossal piano sonata is sort of a cult classic in the modernist repertoire.  Influenced by later Beethoven in its overall conception, it surpasses most similar works in its intensity and scope of vision.

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Audiofile / Webern, Anton
« on: August 09, 2010, 09:01:42 AM »
Webern, Anton: Rapidshare, Blogspot, Megaupload

Webern, Anton

Anton Webern - String Trio Opus 20, Piano Variations Opus 27 (1927, 1936, Megaupload)
Schoenberg Quartet, Mitsuko Uchida

This is essential Webern, such clearly articulated serial music that the structural devices are clearly perceptible.

10
Interzone / Consensus
« on: July 06, 2010, 03:58:36 AM »
Looking at this from a practical perspective, we should reach a consensus and then force these albums on the world: Note: consensus does not mean "everyone agrees." It means the wise elders reach an accord and filter out anything below a B+.

Related to this, It recently occurred to me that a disturbingly large number of people on these forums are less interested in reaching a consensus than in making sure their individual voice is heard.  Rather than discussing albums upon which we agree, everyone wants to talk about albums that will stir up controversy in order to gain attention.  I realised that there are perhaps five albums where my opinion differs from the general consensus here, as opposed to hundreds of releases where it does not.  If I were to spend time trying to gain credit for those albums as a sort of personal crusade, it detracts from the forward movement of the forum of a whole, although obviously this does not apply to relatively unknown works.  Some people will say that enough has been said about the classics, I disagree, if we are going to discuss music why not discuss the best.  Countless books have been written about each of the Beethoven symphonies, if we are committed to metal as an art form then there is no reason why new insights into classic works are not possible, but this requires time and effort, not just a cursory listen followed by a controversial forum post.

11
Metal / Deathspell Omega Interview
« on: June 29, 2010, 01:14:29 PM »
http://ezxhaton.kccricket.net/interview.html

Whatever your thoughts on their music (personally I don't know it very well), this is probably the most interesting interview with a metal musician I have come across.  The intelligence displayed by this band member is beyond that of any metal musician I have previously encountered.  Surprisingly much of what is said comes close to the general consensus regarding the direction of metal music on this forum.

Some particularly interesting quotes...

"Are you concerned at all about the reaction to these religious developments within a certain minority of black metal as being seen as "just another trend" in a very trendy scene?

- Not quite. I can't count the multitudes of philosophes who underlined that Truth can never be understood by a large number of people, not to mention their statement on the notion of evolution. It would be very egalitarian and humanistic of us to care about the opinion of the masses, be it the black metal masses, don't you think?"

"Remember, when Luther had translated the Bible into vernacular language, and by doing so gave access to the divine words to a broader, thus less educated public, he soon had to put as a preamble to an interpretation of these texts a serious cultural background that nothing can ever be interpreted freely."

"Intellectually, I'd dare to say a new generation -well, a couple dozen individuals worldwide, more realistically- is ready to break boundaries. Maybe certain individuals here and there have finally the will and understanding to truly materialise Black Metal out of the ashes of what it never fully was? Let me tell you that the real potential of Black Metal hasn't yet been realised. How could it be, when Black Metal nowadays is synonymous with close to no artistic vision but stands exclusively for a carbon copy of a sound, a non- attitude and non-ideas? Don't get me wrong, traditionalism is a valid aspect, but when no alternative to traditionalism is open anymore it is called stagnation, and stagnation equals artistic death. Had a literary movement reached such a rotting point, it'd have been laughed at and dismissed as ridiculous for years from the inside.

That these few visionaries tend to go over banal anti-Christian sentiments isn't that surprising, as banal anti- Christian sentiments are but the manifestation of primitive first-degree rebellion. You know, that phase which about every human goes through when he's a teen? To deny the current cultural and spiritual paradigm is but a logical move, but if there's nothing to happen behind the denial, well, I do not have to point out what kind of intellectual void it implies, do I?"

"Professing a belief, or rather describing the different stones that pave the road on the quest that true faith implies, is synonymous with being active, it witnesses of spiritual evolution, of gains and of losses. As we wrote above, denial can't be anything other than a very first step, unless you want to embrace the most primitive nihilism."

"In this case it's basically the debate between those who want to enthrone Black Metal as a form of Art (in the noble sense of the word, Art as a key to truly understand dare I say everything. The devil is one of the keys to what is known as l'art total.) and those who want to let it remain as merely another form of entertainment. We despise this second category, immensely and irremediably, that goes without saying."

"Honestly, we can not be considered as witnesses to the French scene first and foremost because our modus operandi is exclusive by essence and becomes inclusive solely by the transcendental link of the Verb, a common language if you prefer. To mention a rare example, Antaeus shares this language. You may understand however that beyond that we have nothing to say on this topic."


12
Metal / Ildjarn: Last Man Standing
« on: June 26, 2010, 04:33:20 AM »
As far as I can tell Ildjarn is now the last of the Norwegian black-metallers who hasn't forsaken quality music.  This is a victory for the uncompromising, the only way to preserve quality is to utterly reject everything which fails to meet a high standard.  This is the only way not to be absorbed into the current which sweeps through modern civilisation dragging it to its doom.  Listen to Ildjarn and remember that nature will destroy everything which fails to obey its laws.

13
Metal / Artistic Direction after Black Metal
« on: June 24, 2010, 06:46:29 AM »
I think this is an interesting phenomenon, particularly with the Norwegian second wave you can tell alot about the commitment of the artists by the direction they took after black metal.  The best 'post black-metal' works are the electronic albums by Burzum, Ildjarn, Neptune Towers and Beherit.  These were the works where the artists still had ambition.  The rest of the black-metallers either reverted to ripping off their influences; later Darkthrone and Immortal, or making second rate versions of their earlier work ie. Gorgoroth.  As things stand electronic ambient music still represents an avenue for metal musicians who wish to avoid the dumbassery that is associated with metal nowadays, as is witnessed by the multiple successes of black metal musicians in this genre.

14
Metal / Two approaches to music
« on: May 05, 2010, 01:05:50 PM »
Structural/Architectural : individual sonorities, fragments, phrases derive their meaning from the overarching structure into which they are integrated.  This applies to classical music and death metal.

Sonorous/Aesthetic : Focus is on the actual quality of the sounds, which tend to form organic, free flowing structures around themselves.  Western musicians suck at this, as is demonstrated by French impressionist music.  Indian music is a better example of this approach.

Few styles of music fall completely into one category, the sonorous qualities of classical are quite deliberate, as are the structures of Indian improvisations.  The point is that these styles place their emphasis differently. 

What happens when one approach is ignored entirely, you get Serial music on one hand, in which the qualities of sounds are completely arbitrary, I'm not sure what I'd say completely overlooks the first approach, any ideas?

15
Interzone / Insanity
« on: May 04, 2010, 07:18:49 AM »
The way I see it insanity has to do with an inability to adapt constructive behavioral patterns.  This can occur for three main reasons.

1 : Perceptions are inaccurate (schizophrenics)

2 : Conclusions drawn from perceptions are inaccurate (Liberals)

3 : Conscious decision to act in contradiction with accurate perceptions and conclusions (Losers)

The last one is especially common on the internet, and basically applies to anyone who is aware of their responsibilities but refuses to live up to them because of immaturity.  It is also the least excusable form of insanity because these people are aware of their failure but refuse to do anything about it.

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