Sunday, 2 December 2018
Burial Hex overview
Burial Hex -
Burial Hex – Et In Arcadia Ego – Cassette – Monastery Fortress – 2017.
I. A rebours.
II. Beast of the Weaponed Sex.
III. Cathar Riddles.
IV. Bleach the Agony.
V. What He Doth Finde of the Phenix Kinde.
VI. Womb of the Wold.
VII. Reign Gathering.
VIII. The Tolling.
IX. Famine Again
X. Democracy of the Dead.
XI. There is Light.
4. The Upper Room.
5. White Sunday.
Burial Hex – In Psychic Defense – Sound of Cobra – SOC4 – Single sided 12” – 2011
1. In Psychic Defense.
Burial Hex – Initiations – CD – Aurora Borealis – 2008
1. Will to the Chapel.
2. 8 Pentacles.
3. River of Los.
4. Bo -II-Ne.
My history with Burial Hex stretches back to when Clay Ruby made everything on his Soundcloud tracks free for download some years ago around 2010. This led to my interest being peaked enough to buy his split LP with Iron Fist of the Sun in 2011, as well as the In Psychic Defense 12” a year later. I really liked what I heard, it was very different to the Power Electronics I was listened in those times. Burial Hex was a one off. I’d recently lost touch with the project until some recent discussion ensured I landed copies of Et In Arcadia Ego and Assumption/ Ascension. For those reasons I will step backwards into Burial Hex before I step forwards to recent recordings.
My time at Judas Kiss led me to get a copy of 2008s ‘Initiations’ in a sale after the site had closed. This is one of the earlier Burial Hex releases as he had been releasing since 2007. It’s described by the label as a ‘Metaphysical odyssey of uncertain outcome.’ The album Starts off with deep, moody, atmospheric keyboard work that slowly begins losing form and descends into free-form chaos. The lack of fixed structure aspect allows the sound to change fluidly and frequently, Ruby’s assault is very individual when things fire up. The later atmospherics contain humming ambient drones that rise through echoing metal clanging. Things build into a Kaleidoscopic vision of sound of lengthy fractured noise abstractions. I also liked the passages of melodic instrumentation; it leans towards old horror film soundtracks, but never feels forced, it is as if he arrives at some conclusions through sheer force of experimentation. However, I do believe there is always a central theme in the background that ties the work together discretely. It is evident on listening that BH did find its own sound territory as a project very early on. Overall this album does demonstrate the beginnings of a unique, impressive personal vision.
Burial Hex – Initiations – CD – Aurora Borealis – 2008
Due to recent personal events and the lengthy task at hand I needed to add this to the review; it’s the single sided 12” ‘In Psychic Defense’ that came 3 years later after Initiations. The opening hymn is to Archangel Michael, who is traditionally leader and protector of the faithful. In Psychic Defense is also Clay Ruby’s collaboration with Troy Schafer and this was meant to be the last release as Burial Hex, history proves that thankfully it wasn’t. My thoughts of this years ago were the odd instrumentation and how it sounded like nothing else; this still stands true now. It’s progressed and matured a lot since Initiations, yet the works immediate uniqueness still ties it to ‘Initiations’ as it still has a ‘wtf?’ factor throughout. Its vocals and music are fluid as they build towards the second part of the track which consists of spacious, delicate melodic instrumentation that points to beauty and harmony. A beat interrupts this to introduce a growled, hellish Black Metal type vocal over the melody which then shifts to a lighter singing before the growl returns. This is still a very challenging listen after all these years.
Burial Hex – In Psychic Defense – Sound of Cobra – 2011
Assumption/Ascension is a combined reissue of two earlier releases Pentecost (2016) and Assumption/Ascension (2015). With tracks 1 & 2, recorded live at Snake on the Lake Festival (Ruby and Angela McJunkin) Foggy, ambient drones build and make way for string instrumentation and choir like, distant odd vocal sounds. The vocal like earlier recordings splits between human and raging, pleading shouts, however the gorgeous classical/folkish instrumentation is very prominent in the mix. There are shifts into more ambient, progressive electronic passages of music. When field recording sounds or live action sounds become prominent it makes for an effective lead when the vocals aren’t present. Acoustic instrumentation and pure vocals end the Ascension. The frequent, unexpected shifts into experimental oddness are there in Burial Hex. The lush, flowing musical passages seem to mix with this in an unaffected way.
Tracks 3-6 were originally released a year later in 2016 as Pentecost and were also recorded live, but this time at St Norbert’s Catholic Church in Wisconsin. Vigil begins with an epic organ performance; as this ends, sharp pitches of sound bring new beginning, progressive electronic pulsations and unearthly vocal sounds form a new sound collage. Organ and drones slowly move in, building to an intense rise that is far more nightmarish than the opening track. Drones and Organs build the next cycle. This demonstrates a familiar pattern in Burial Hex recordings of the sounds starting as if distant, in a fog as elements then rise slowly to the forefront of the passage. The Organs return to finish the album off beautifully.
Pentecost is a less chaotic recording, I find it flows along and shift gradually in comparison to the Assumption/Ascension tracks. This is an impressive live compilation of recordings demonstrating Burial Hex’s continually evolving multi-faceted sound. I’d argue the passages of work are complex yet done so in a way which isn’t just a flood of ideas, it does seem refined enough to flow naturally into new territory, the vocals do often repeat in style which effectively serves to tie the work together.
2017 brought us Et In Arcadia Ego, this comes with assistance from Brielle Ruby, Angela McJunkin and Nathaniel Ritter. Limited to 77 copies, this is essentially the most recent Burial Hex release. Samples and electronic synthesisers build until bleak ambience rumbles above and around. Like previous works there is a sense of ceremony/ritual throughout. The familiar growled vocals appear to be read from a text or script, it is as if the familiarity of the opening tracks vocal ‘evolution/devolution’ sample is echoed. Chant samples seem to reference the holy whilst the pipes reference primal instincts and journeys.
Cathar Riddles is all pleasant bells and pipes until it shifts into urgent noise keyboard drones; this is a welcome return to the abuse of earlier releases. The chanted vocal weaves this in well with the earlier pieces of work on the album. A haunted keyboard drone takes over and the vocal arrangements become layered and further abstracted; this is psychedelic and esoteric at the same time. Bleach the Agony continues the esoteric feel and works as a journey into other areas of Burial Hex and leads us into What He Doth Finde of the Phenix Kinde; this is the longest track on the album and as a result is complex in its subtle changes over that course of time.
Womb of the Wold is a murkier, tripped out and choppily fractured work that later shifts to more lushness and instrumentation. Reign Gathering calms things in to a quieter ambient calmness as instrumentation flows along with this. The Tolling is darker as tribal drums and ritualistic speaking dominate this low-level ritual of sound. The second side continues to get more warped until sounds are unrecognisable. This album continues to build on the instrumental folkish areas of Burial Hex whilst warping the familiar experimentation even more, it continues the dance between beauty and ugliness warping both unrecognisable into each other at times.
Burial Hex – Et In Arcadia Ego – Monastery Fortress – 2017
Although I have revisited Psychic Defense, this served as a central point for the work. I have either proved Burial Hex to be a project in continual shift or picked 4 lucky moments, which I doubt. The work seems content to confuse, if you pay attention it will partly explain itself, it becomes a woven tapestry through signals and some subtle repetition. Due to the desire to grow and change, the project doesn’t seem to stay in one place for too long. It’s difficult to pick a favourite release here as the work is consistently very strong. Breaking the work down has enabled me to see how it functions, but the mystery remains.
Choppy Noodles 2018