Fictions: raw experimental black metal inspired by Borges’s literary universe

Reflet Crépusculaire, Fictions, United States, Witchcult Records, WC043 limited edition cassette (2022)

Inspired by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’s short stories with their focus on the elusive nature of reality and how much of it may actually be extensions of one’s imagination or dreams, mystery raw BM band Reflet Crépusculaire recently brought out “Fictions”, its debut release, named after the compilation of Borges’s short fiction originally published in the 1940s that made him famous. How dedicated Reflet Crépusculaire is to Borges’s work can be judged from the fact that the musician who runs the project and who composed, played, recorded, mixed and produced all the music on “Fictions” calls himself Orbus Tertius after one of Borges’s short stories, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”, which deals with several layers of reality and unreality, and includes a huge cast of characters both imagined and real. I imagine that Reflet Crépusculaire exists mainly for Orbus Tertius’s own philosophical and metaphysical investigations and amusement, and if the project collects any fans, that would probably be a pleasant bonus for Orbus Tertius.

The recording consists of two tracks “Tlön” and “Circular Ruins”, the second named after another of Borges’s short stories in which a man’s dreams and imagination have the power to create and bring to life a second man. The music on both tracks is roaring raw melodic BM with noisy guitar the dominant instrument and shrieking background vocals its counterpoint. The percussion is all but drowned out though steely-edged cymbals are present in the hissy noise. “Tlön” sounds very repetitive though the riffs do change throughout the track and the track becomes more intense and shrill in its last few moments. The sound is tinny and harsh and the production is very lo-fi. “Circular Ruins”, the longer track of the two, features not just more riffs: it apparently has 15 riffs, few of which repeat, right up to the end of the track. Some of these are slow, doomy and droning, others are fast and frantic, and still others have a dark country-and-western noir feel, all making for a song of many moods in spite of it featuring just instrumental guitar, ghostly reptile voices and a lot of noisy harsh frothy atmosphere (though there might be synthesiser somewhere).

For those unaware of or simply not interested in Borges’s speculative fiction, I guess “Fictions” will be of limited interest: the guitar music has a limited range of sound and the atmospheres and voices are not varied enough to hold listener attention for very long. The noisy nature of the music and its raw production unfortunately flattens the sounds and any subtleties in the riffs or the ambient background are obscured. Having read Borges’s fiction myself and knowing the story on which “Circular Ruins” is based, I can see how the structure of the track in which one riff generates another riff and so on right to the end parallels the narrative in the original story, in which dreaming creates a reality from which more dreaming creates more realities in a potentially endless repetition of life cycles. The music is definitely experimental in intent and nature, as was Borges’s own writing, even in popular genres like crime fiction and gaucho fiction (the Argentine equivalent of the Western). I imagine Orbus Tertius has some very high ambitions for this project though its first real manifestation has turned out quite modest.