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93696

Thrill Jockey
Thrill 581 - 2023

Liturgy transcends the traditional parameters of what constitutes a rock band. Founded by Ravenna Hunt- Hendrix, Liturgy is a part of a shared discipline of composition, art, and philosophy that thrives on exploring the spaces between. As an ever-evolving practice Hunt-Hendrix has incorporated elements of black metal, art rock, opera, and trap production into the musical language of Liturgy while engaging with transcendental, theological and eschatological theory through lectures series’ and art installations. A profound sense of yearning and emotional depth weaves through the Liturgy’s dense layers and anchors the project’s increasingly complex and innovative work. 93696 is the purest synthesis of the diversity of Liturgy, a sprawling and monumental double album exploring religion, cosmic love, the feminine, and metamorphosis while manifesting the ecstatic with breathtaking grandeur.

93696 is a number derived from the religions of Christianity and Thelema, a numerological representation of heaven, or a new eon for civilization. Hunt-Hendrix composed the album as an exploration of eschatological possibility divided by the four “laws” that govern her own interpretation of heaven, “Haelegen”: Sovereignty, Hierarchy, Emancipation, and Individuation. These laws constitute the four movements of 93696 which act as dramas all their own within the framework of the record. Throughout the movements Hunt- Hendrix invokes the album’s myriad of personal and conceptual themes through the ensemble’s sheer force of sound, her will and intent blossoming from each bombarding gale. Hunt-Hendrix’s keening voice sows passionate crescendos and imagist poetry into the elaborate arrangements. The meticulously crafted and nuanced compositions flex and stretch dexterously, bounding with an incalculable momentum that contorts and stutters at lightning speed. Hunt-Hendrix notes on the album’s recording process: “We recorded it to tape in a much more live way than usual, aiming to make it sound more punk-meets-classical than metal, which is the usual recording style reference for us.”

Liturgy’s signature use of rhythmic complexity and repetition are exponentially amplified to maximalist proportions on 93696. Along with guitarist Mario Miron, bassist Tia Vincent- Clark, and drummer Leo Didkovsky, Hunt-Hendrix utilizes Liturgy’s past ruminations on burst beats and circuitous phrases as colors to paint rich murals that overwhelm and invigorate the senses. Pieces like “Djennaration” mirror 19th-century classical compositions through their formal structures as well as their evocative arrangements that reach towards the sublime. Strings, choirs, flutes, horns and bells soar to climactic heights. Liturgy’s use of symphonic forms is less subversion of rock music than it is a wholehearted embrace, fully exploiting the power and dynamism of each in tandem. Title track “93696” employs the most steady backbeat of Liturgy’s oeuvre within a 15-minute through-composed epic, dynamics in constant flux, colored with twinkling bells and measured piano, counterpoint to their usual chaotic, progressive rhythms. Didkovsky’s unending dexterity and precision behind the kit belies the ensemble’s ferocity and infectious groove in equal measure. Miron’s guitar twirls in dizzying countermelodies to Hunt-Hendrix’s squall as Vincent-Clark’s roaring bass tethers the quartet’s intricate rhythm framework to their melodicism. “Angel of Hierarchy,” “Red Crown II” and “Angel of Individuation” lay bare Hunt-Hendrix’s ability to conjure haunting beauty from any combination of instruments, whether it’s through marxophone, ocarina, string orchestra or children’s choir. By seamlessly incorporating disparate sources, from “Djenneration”’s trap shuffle to the spackled glitches of “Before I Knew the Truth” to the robotic cadence on “Haelegen II,” Hunt-Hendrix employs another facet of her musical voice into the compositions, a defiant proclamation of agency and independence in the face of expectation.

The music of Liturgy is in a constant state of searching. In pursuit of larger truths, be they philosophical or personal, Ravenna Hunt-Hendrix and her band imbue their music with a sense of urgency and ceaseless longing. 93696 reflects the awe of the unknowable and celebrates what revelations and mysteries lie ahead.

Tracklist

00:00:00

  • 1 Daily Bread
  • 2 Djennaration
  • 3 Caela
  • 4 Angel of Sovereignty
  • 5 Haelegen II
  • 6 Before I Knew the Truth
  • 7 Angel of Hierarchy
  • 8 Red Crown II
  • 9 Angel of Emancipation
  • 10 Ananon
  • 11 93696
  • 12 Haelegen II (Reprise)
  • 13 Angel of Individuation
  • 14 Antigone II
  • 15 Immortal Life II

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