“Come, let us go down and confound their speech.” The Word As Power is the new studio album by Lustmord, his first for Blackest Ever Black.
Half a decade in the making, it’s an exploration of ritual music without dogma. For the first time in his 33-year career Lustmord places vocals at the centre of his abyssal ambient creations, coaxing incantatory performances out of Aina Skinnes Olsen, Jarboe (ex-Swans), Maynard James Keenan (Tool) and Soriah.
Those looking to properly decode the subject matter of the album are advised to study Simon Fowler’s fiendishly elaborate, double-spread cover illustration. Suffice it to say here that it concerns “the word” as written – signs, ciphers, symbology, semantics, etymology – and as spoken – myths, mantras, chants, invocation and evocation. Of course it’s also about the unwritten, the unspoken; that which exists beyond the reach of language.
Sonically, The Word As Power is even more detailed, expansive and consuming than Lustmord’s followers have come to expect, with voices, electronics, immense sub-bass, field recordings and other acoustic phenomena harnessed and arranged to stimulate feelings of dread and desolation, certainly, but also escape, renewal and rebirth.
The alias of Welsh-born, California-based Brian Williams, Lustmord first emerged as an associate of SPK in the early ‘80s, before embarking on a solo career that has yielded such classics as Heresy (1990), The Place Where The Black Stars Hang (1994) and (with Robert Rich) Stalker (1995). Often seen to epitomize “dark ambient”, it would be more accurate to say that his work simply goes deeper, further, than conventional ambient dares, or is able, to go.
His last major work was 2008’s [Other], which gave rise to two companion albums, [Beyond] and [The Dark Places Of The Earth], and for the past two years he has been engaged with TRINITY, a live project inspired by the first nuclear weapons tests in the New Mexico desert. Lustmord has also contributed to numerous Hollywood films as music and sound designer, and over the past 30 years has collaborated with the likes of Clock DVA, Chris & Cosey, Geir Jenssen, The Melvins, Tool, Aaron Turner, Monte Cazazza and Coil’s Jhon Balance.