The Night Door under Lock and Key / Laocoon: bleak expressions of warning, chaos, loss, emptiness and despair

Jute Gyte, The Night Door under Lock and Key / Laocoon, Black Horizons, cassette BH-95 (2015)

If you are yet to discover the delights of this prolific one-man electro-industrial BM act and you find his discography rather formidable, what with all the Renaissance-era artwork covers, not to mention hearing all those layers of see-sawing guitars, you are best advised to start with short cassette releases Adam Krambach / Jute Gyte has done, like this “The Night Door under Lock and Key / Laocoon” release. The cassette is styled like a single with each side dedicated to one track – the catch being that each track is at least 20 minutes in length. Although the two pieces “The Night Door …” and “Laocoon” are very different from each other, they are representative of Jute Gyte’s work in being very dense, mostly unstructured and highly immersive microtonal guitar soundscapes with an overwhelmingly hellish and nauseating ambience.

For the most part “The Night Door …” is a hard chunky piece of drunken discordant guitars, two of them at loggerheads with each other when going on extended solos, and two duelling vocals, one shouty death-metal grunt and the other more grisly black-metal rasp. Quieter sections are interspersed with the more delirious and demented racket, and these reveal a very dark and uneasy world on the edge of chaos. Late in the piece there is an all-ambient pause through which field recordings, special effects, buzz and drone zing through, and an underwater zombie voice mumbles through the thick fluid of murk. According to the cassette sleeve notes, the lyrics are derived from a poem by Egyptian-French surrealist poet Joyce Mansour (1925 – 1986).

“Laocoon” recalls the Greek legend of the Trojan priest who tried to warn his fellow citizens not to accept the wooden horse provided by their Greek enemy as a gift and bring it into their city, and who ended up being punished by the gods for his bravery. It is a very downbeat mournful mood piece of long drones and desolate space, and the guitar microtones bring a bleak desert-blues fatalism. Loss, emptiness, despair and regret (at having lost an opportunity to do the right thing perhaps) seem to be the dominant themes and that is pretty much all that can be said for the track as it is heavily repetitive and ends up spiralling around in circles of darker sorrow.

I find this a very uneven recording, the first track keeping this listener on edge and throwing out a surprise experimental climax, the second track a monotonous dirge retreading the same riffs and emotions over and over. (I appreciate the point being made, that sometimes all that people can do when they lose everything through their own mistakes, is to wring their hands and replay the fateful incident over and over in their hands – because there really is nothing else they can do to rectify it or change things.) The cassette format being what it is, with both sides of the tape being equal in length of course, I think the way to go should have been to edit “Laocoon” for length and let it dissolve into a continuous blur of white demented static to drive its lessons home. At least though, listeners get to hear another, more highly expressive and even bleaker side of Jute Gyte.