Ressentiment: a jaundiced view of humanity and a revelation of potentials in chaos


Jute Gyte, Ressentiment, Jeshimoth Entertainment, CD JE066 (2014)

Missouri’s one and only micro-tonal experimental black metal act Jute Gyte brings out yet another epic recording of quarter-tone sonic hell-fire on his own label Jeshimoth Entertainment. This album must be the 23rd full-length work JG man Adam Kalmbach has recorded and still no mainstream BM label has signed him up even if only to give itself some credibility, never mind pushing sales of the record so Kalmbach can devote himself full-time to the project if he so wishes and isn’t doing so already. As far as I know, “Ressentiment” is the third installment of a trilogy which I presume began with “Discontinuities” and continued with “Vast Chains”: these three albums feature reproductions of Renaissance / early 17th century European paintings as their cover art. The paintings chosen – they include the famous “Las Meninas” painting by Diego Velázquez and Jan van Eyck’s “The Arnolfini Marriage” – for all three albums possess in their background details mirrors that reflect images of the characters in the art and which might symbolise an other-worldly gaze back at the society that has produced such art and what it values or does not value. As with previous work, Kalmbach’s lyrics deal with the emptiness and fragility of life, violence and existential darkness.

Songs are usually very dense affairs, spilling over with several melodies, riffs and tempos, and always featuring Kalmbach’s bilious and crabby vocal – but the album as a whole seems lighter and more rock-oriented that the previous “Vast Chains”. The tracks have more distinct personalities and a different style of music seems to be emphasised on each: for example, “The Central Fires of Secret Memory” has a fair amount of almost minimal doom metal along with much faster blast-beat passages. Although at first the music appears chaotic, it is actually very structured and orderly – with repeated hearings, listeners will be able to pick up repeating riffs and melodies. The use of micro-tones here gives songs a highly demented spirit, as a way of expressing the apparent madness and futility of living in a world where terrible things happen or humans treat one another badly and brutally for no good reason and in a random manner that defies explanation.

Micro-tones can serve a symbolic function in revealing hidden areas of music that themselves either represent the seamy darkness of our societies which we would prefer not to know or the potentials for reform and transformation that we, deliberately or unconsciously, avoid. Another way of interpreting them is that they represent the free-wheeling chaos of life within which a logic and an order beyond our ability to understand and control exist, and if we become aware of this chaos and learn to live with it without imposing our standards on it, we can become partners with it. Listening to the entire trilogy of JG albums without the lyrics, with the aim of complete immersion in the music, can bring this realisation to the willing and humble listener.

There is greater space within the songs than what I recall of past Jute Gyte releases and this allows for more experimentation with tone, melody and structure than what Kalmbach has done (or been able to do) previously. The result is that this music is relatively accessible compared to previous JG work and if new listeners aren’t all that fussed about hearing the entire trilogy, they can certainly start their journey with Jute Gyte with this recording. True, Kalmbach seems to go out of his way to find the ugliest, most awkward and ungainly riffs, melodies and tones to play but those of us who follow him know we do so on his terms: Kalmbach is a true maverick who has always dug his own niche in a particularly dark and bleak area of black metal / industrial that few want to know.

The whole album proceeds like a series of rants and raging screeds though the lyrics of most songs speak more of despair, anger, resignation and sadness at the inevitability of death and the failures and stupidity of humankind. This might say a great deal about how Kalmbach views the world and his determination to keep his distance from it. Perhaps that’s why in spite of the epic and unique nature of his music, Jute Gyte has never signed to a BM label that could spread his message far and wide: it’s nothing to do with the music at all. It’s an expression of Kalmbach’s jaundiced view of the sordid and brutal world we have made.

Contact: Jeshimoth Entertainment

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