Something Macabre Is Going on Here . . .

One of last year’s most interesting releases which I’m only now catching up with, was an album by Christopher Laufman, who creates and performs his music under the moniker Wise Blood. As if that name were not enough, the title of the record, written alternately ID or Id, in its very ambiguity – do these two letters refer to a document of identification or to that “thing” which many would like to detect underneath our conscious minds or to both? – should probably suffice to suggest that his work continues to veer around macabre terrain. For the topics of his earlier releases, and especially the videos made to accompany them, were more often than not beings which by all rights ought to be dead but that nonetheless are strangely potent and still in effect disconcertingly alive; these were conveyed in sound and on the screen not in the manner of full-⁠fledged horror, but as mysteriously supernatural, tending to stick in his audience’s memory by dint of just this choice of presentation: then, although one might be inclined to dismiss the macabre nimbus as mere posturing or pretension on Wise Blood’s part, a moment’s further thought might lead one to realise that not only the words but the music too shares in the macabre. What else, after all, ought it to be called when, as in the work of this skilful sampler of un-⁠obsolete sounds, bits from bygone recordings return into the present with incomparably greater energy and effect now when joined to a host of others, than ever they had when each was an unremarkable organic whole?

All the more so, given Wise Blood’s evident talent in allying together some parts one never would have expected to encounter in the same place at the same time. Not to mention that many of them hail from not even all that long ago – the date of expiration advances upon them more and more rapidly, as a consequence of the pace of contemporary production in these sectors.

An undead horde of wilfully de-⁠decomposed pieces of music? It’s an unheimlich-⁠eerie idea, but one which may describe rather precisely what’s actually afoot now.

In any event, on this album, his voice is appreciably more mellifluous, the music more melodious than it was, at least marginally – yet while the edges are less rough than before, the blade has been sharpened. Laufman’s record label, Dovecote, offers the LP on its Soundcloud page, yet since Id is worth listening to in its entirety, as there’s practically no filler here and the body of this music is fit and toned, here for the sake of convenience I’ll simply embed it whole.

In the course of Id, there are several high points, but the number “8 p.m. – 10 p.m.” is particularly striking.

Just a few days ago, on his own Soundcloud page Laufman loaded another album, composed evidently of disjecta membra left over from the batch of samples deployed in its predecessor, but operating on a similar level and which likewise does without the usual padding. This latest record is entitled Get ’em, and because it too is one of those listeners are most likely to “get” when they’re played straight through, all of it may properly be included here.

At points this successor album pushes the art of sampling quite a bit further than the previous had done. Laufman’s sense of humour, too, speaks up more. Repeated listening is therefore advisable.

Macabre in another manner is an original song posted by the young Texan singer and songwriter Zackary Hinson on his Soundcloud page, “Medusa.” Judging from this ironic excursion into mythology, in his lyrics and delivery he already knows to utilise camp or burlesque elements deliberately – inspired perhaps by some of the sophistication of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – rather than that they would take over the whole thing and run away with it, as so easily can happen.

The further endeavours of someone who can make horror and humour touch each other in one single song, as Hinson does in his, will be worth following.