“All life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other.” – H.P. Lovecraft
Disembodied souls drift through the ether and spirits slip on the edge of consciousness. The threshold between sleeping and wakefulness, between living and beyond, is terrifying yet beautiful.
Sublimity transgressed, we’re no longer distant observers to something grand, horrifying and dazzling. We are surrounded, immersed, drowning. Images real, imagined, and amalgamated from past experiences and daydreams meld together, overlap, and flash before us in a strobing, hypnotic compendium.
Watch the worldwide premiere of “Out of Body” from Hollywood Necronomicon here:
Superimposed black and white pictures from celebrity obituaries bleed in and out of our vision over haunting images of a beautiful somnambulist woman wandering through a late-Victorian mansion. She walks among stone altars, gardens, and concrete thoroughfares in the Hollywood Hills.
Visions of Marilyn, Judy, Bruce Lee and John Lennon, our modern day sirens and martyrs, glare at us then disappear at the very moment we spot them like the glowing orbs that appear when we have a migraine or a seizure. A woman’s voice with a German accent chants from behind the wall of consciousness these words: “Hollywood Necronomicon. Hollywood Sacrifice Teleportation. Let us celebrate The Carnival of Souls. Hollywood is rising. I am out of my body. Now.”
A throbbing, crawling, lurching rhythm begins to build. A crawling, creeping sound seethes up from the roots and soil. From an ancient subterranean world where dreams and nightmares are born, an echoing, electronic drone that sounds paradoxically like something from the natural world (like the distant radio pulse of a decaying neutron star or a time lapse recording of two geological plates grinding together) as well as something conjured from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 60s oozes over the swirling morass of overlaid images and catatonic chanting.
Are we dreaming? Are we tripping? Are we channel surfing late at night on a television set broadcasting from another dimension? Is this a weird student film from a talented precocious artist who was expelled from film school because of their arcane, trangressive spiritual ideas? Is this a visual document of some bizarre, underground cult?
No, this is the worldwide premiere of “Out of Body”, an excerpt of new film Hollywood Necromonicon from the ongoing sonic and visual explorations of Cosmotropia de Xam, an artist who’s made a sort of trademark of making video pieces that push the boundaries of lush, complex imagery culled and inspired from bits of obscure European supernatural cinema, pop-culture iconography and occult kitsch accompanied by slow, dirgey, spooky as hell synthesizer soundscapes. “Out of Body” is the first single from Hollywood Necromonicon to be released on Phantasma Disques from the wild, unsettling spectral world of Mater Suspiria Vision. It’s never just about the music for the Mater Suspiria Vision project. It’s always a total audio-visual experience.
Joined by Aura and How I Quit Crack on vocals, MSV’s latest piece suggests it will be the most ambitious and challenging work to date. A warning is even issued to viewers before watching any of the previous teasers for Hollywood Necronomicon: EPILEPSY WARNING. DO NOT WATCH IF YOU HAVE PHOTOSENSITIVE EPILEPSY. You were warned.
What has always set MSV apart from so many other occult minded electronic artists lately (which have been haunting the internet for the past 4 or 5 years now using that unmistakable MicroKORG ”swarm of killer bees” synth sound, programming beats with drum machine hand claps and making videos of shrouded figures lurking in foggy forests and such) is not only the genuinely disturbing sounds of MSV’s music, but also the truly drop dead gorgeousness of the art direction found in the music releases and CDX films. It just looks and feels different.
The films are undoubtedly informed and literate. It’s obvious CDX understands the history of avant garde and exploitation cinema of the 60s and 70s (everything from Kenneth Anger and Jess Franco) as well as the film work of Peter Greenaway, Matthew Barney and even the latest films of David Lynch. Yet the influences are assimilated in a unique manner creating an independent cinematic vocabulary.
For example, this new work uses the signature Lynchian trope of the wandering “confused, lost woman” that gave us all goosebumps in films like Mulholland Dr. and Inland Empire. The over-laying of multiple, juxtaposed imagery recalls Greenaway’s delirious motion collages. The neo-Baroque, over the top, slightly (but fully intentional) surreal campiness of the long, stretched out shots of figures in stylized environments is no doubt inspired by Barney. The cryptic occult content (the stone alters, flowing robes, the weird incantations of the narration, etc.) is a tip of the hat to Anger. The stunning woman who we can’t take our eyes off of who’s stalking around the garden that may either be about to have a nervous breakdown or slit someone’s throat (or both) is a nod to Franco’s “gift mädchen” from his film She Killed In Ecstasy.
Though inspired by these various sources, CDX’s video work doesn’t seem derivative or retro in the usual sense. In fact, most of the mystery and allure of them is that there’s a critical tension that develops in the viewer while experiencing a CDX piece. There’s a disturbing irony going on here, but it’s not “ironic” in the typical, throwaway usage of that term. We ask ourselves, “Is the thing we’re watching for real? Or is this merely ambitious (perhaps pretentious) beautiful looking video art masquerading as something profound, hiding behind its dense, luscious cascade of imagery? Is this just ecstatic, psychedelic camp? Or is this something truly otherworldly and poetic?” Perhaps it’s all of the above. We don’t really know for sure.
This is at the heart of what fascinates me the most about Cosmotropia de Xam. This is why Mater Suspiria Vision and Aura seem so contemporary to me where so many other synth artists we love seem so retro and stuck in the past. It’s not the spooky, occult imagery, per se (though that plays a part), it’s not the wild-eyed catatonia of Aura (though that element is definitely riveting), and it’s just not the atmospherics of the crepuscular synth sounds. It is the “what the fuck am I actually watching here?” thought that creeps into your brain while you’re watching it all.
Wherever you fall in your assessment of CDX and the MSVworld, you will undoubtedly be compelled. Like looking into the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, you cannot look away no matter how hard you try. So if your face melts off, don’t say you weren’t warned.