Inspired by the onslaught of overcast days this week, I’ve been diving deep into the dirge. The first selection is a procession of raw, lysergic New Age (or, perhaps more aptly, “dark age”) cuts (truly no pun intended) from Bobby Beausoleil, infamous member of the Manson family, and perpetrator of what would be the first in the Manson-related murders of 1969. While incarcerated in the 1970’s, Beausoleil formed The Magick Powerhouse of Oz band and arranged a score for Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising a perfect sonic amalgam of arthouse and grindhouse inclinations, Beausoleil’s kaleidoscopic score sprawls from medieval waltzes and dreamlike nocturnal synthscapes to lush psychedelia and acid-fried desert rock. While I’d prefer to not give Beausoleil this credit, what makes Lucifer Rising so compelling to me is its perfect distillation of the atrophying countercultural crescendo of the late 60’s, the Generation of Love’s proverbial fall from grace in which Beausoleil played a leading role.
Minimalist composer Kali Malone, on the other hand, offers a refreshing foil to Beausoleil’s lurid legacy, though it would be all-too-convenient to describe her resonant incantations as a silver lining in contrast to Beausoleil’s sinister saga. While blissful to some extent, her compositions truly carry every bit as much, if not more psychic gravity than the works of Beausoleil, without the aid of infamy. In the monolithic meditations of The Sacrificial Code, Malone’s time-bending sonic expanses are masterfully imbued with an improbable breadth of emotion. A collection of works for solo pipe organ, Malone utilizes precision recording techniques that eliminate the characteristically colossal presence of the instrument, and further mutes the “gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulses” that so often pervade hegemonic, composer-centric musical histories. An indescribable catharsis manifests in The Sacrificial Code’s ego-free assertion of personal expression- it is the first in what I assume will be a long line of masterworks from Malone that beckon for the uninterrupted company of your ears. (Further listening: Sarah Davachi and Éliane Radigue). -DT