“Pushing forward toward an unknown will, the voice commands us. Without a choice but to speak in his voice, the words become us.” – from ‘Light Surrounds Me’
Privacy is the new album by Raspberry Bulbs, due to be released November 17, 2014, on vinyl LP and digital formats.
Their second full-length offering for Blackest Ever Black, following 2013’s Deformed Worship, Privacy is a defence of the anti-social, the secretive, and the inward-looking; a call to resist the contemporary obsession with “connection”, exhibitionism and peer approval, and to claw back ownership of the self. It’s only then that the real battles begin.
Raspberry Bulbs is the invention of visual artist and musician Marco del Rio, who, under the guise of He Who Crushes Teeth, co-founded Bone Awl – one of the most distinguished black metal projects ever to come out of the USA. Bone Awl has been on indefinite hiatus since 2011, the same year that Raspberry Bulbs’ debut album, Nature Tries Again, emerged (following three demo cassettes of dour, hermetic riffage issued in 2009-10).
Hitherto a solo endeavour, RB expanded to a five-piece in the wake of Nature‘s release, and sought to make a definitive break from black metal’s musical signifiers, if not its underlying themes of alienation and abjection – a path of self-discovery that culminated in the bruised, dynamic visions of their sophomore LP, Deformed Worship (BLACKEST018).
Privacy (BLACKEST034) arrives barely a year after its predecessor, but it’s a markedly more developed and far-reaching album. Songs of excoriating intensity once again form the basis of the work – the no-frills 4-track recording capturing all the violence and nuance of del Rio’s vocals, of the dual guitar rapport, and the machine-gun rhythm section – but this time they’re interspersed with eerie electronic miniatures, instrumental pieces that suggest unseen worlds, malign energies, forces beyond our comprehension and control.
This aura of the uncanny is no accident. Though it’s practically impossible to describe Raspberry Bulbs’ music without mentioning punk or metal, the band’s most important influences are not musical, but literary: in particular the “weird fiction” of Lovecraft, Machen, Chambers et al. Privacy certainly has far more to do with this esoteric lineage than it does with contemporary punk or metal cultures. Indeed, the spirit of “weird fiction” runs not just through this album but through all del Rio’s prior projects, and even his root influences – explicit Lovecraftian references abound in everything from The Fall to Rudimentary Peni to Morbid Angel, after all.
Privacy, then, is perhaps best understood as an entry into this cross-discipline canon of the “Weird” – a genre concerned with transformation, sacrifice, forbidden knowledge and fate. In rejecting the outside world and turning inwards to face “the boundless and hideous unknown”, Raspberry Bulbs have delivered their defining statement.