Experimental Doom

A CD copy of the album 'Night of Your Ascension' by Wrekmeister Harmonies.

On asking for recommendations for music outside the styles I habitually favour, a correspondent suggested the track ‘Run Priest Run’ by Chicago-based outfit Wrekmeister Harmonies. I loved it, and went hastily to ebay to obtain a copy of the 2015 album that features it: Night of Your Ascension. I bought a lightly-used CD copy for £4 plus postage.

There are only two tracks on the album. First up is ‘Night of Your Ascension’ itself, which runs to over half an hour, and is apparently inspired by the composer and murderer Carlo Gesualdo. It’s a complex work with numerous moving parts, but still a gripping and absorbing one. At about seventeen minutes' duration, ‘Run Priest Run’ is no brief coda, providing a more unified exercise in bludgeoning menace.

Attempts to categorise Wrekmeister’s music tend to involve the words ‘experimental’, ‘drone’ and ‘doom’. Their name, I gather, is derived from that of Béla Tarr’s long & slow movie Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), which I have not seen, although I have read the novel on which it’s based: László Krasznahorkai’s The Melancholy of Resistance. Krasnahorkai has been quoted as saying “You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, any more than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life”–so that’s a chain of inspiration that seems entirely apt.