abjection — Rehearsal 5

There was a rehearsal yesterday, but it was rubbish, so I left early. Best let that one die miserably. Today though, was rather good. Sometimes rehearsing alone just feels like a very long self-indulgent body maintenance programme. Some floor yoga, some pseudo-Klein, kinesiology stuff, lots of merciless, slow pliés, improvisation scraped from various people in the past — Forsythe, Greco, Lachambre — so far from the roots that it’s probably only me who thinks it bears any resemblance to what they taught, occasional pauses to eat fruit … trying various things to see what’s possible with knee and achilles …

Whatever it is I’m trying to do, it seems that certain things generate a corporeality that suits this, that somehow generates an intensity in muscles, limbs, joints that if I don’t do these ‘warmup’ things, doesn’t appear. Tonight was five hours of this. Alone is surprisingly uncomplicated; it takes around two hours to get through all the ‘warmup’ stuff — somewhere during that it turns from warming up to actually working, but I’m not really sure what is what, probably some time after the plié barrage. There’s moments of “What am I doing, for fuck’s sake?” but usually just a change of music solves that.

And tonight’s music was: Abruptum, Bolt Thrower, a little Burzum but it felt too Nazi-ish and that line isn’t one I want to go down in this work yet, Deathspell Omega, Gorgoroth and Mayhem of course, and finally Sun O))), (who are playing in Berlin soon!). Getting the music right is a lot of it. I was thinking about mosh pits and other sublime moments of punk gigs, and that there’s something in this of a mosh pit, or one where there is only one person, or the expression of hysteria of a metal gig, a little of headbanging, though the more I work on this stuff the clearer it is that the way one dances to the music — mosh pit for punk, headbanging for metal, something entirely other yet from the same world for black metal and doom — describes the music. It is the expression of worship, or of sublimation.

Tonight it seems I’ve finally made sense of a bit of this, I know what goes on, what I have to hang on to in order to last the ride. I also know a bit of what isn’t there, that too, the absence of the future of what it is beyond where I’ve got to. It’s potentially longer than I expected, which raises a question of what is the actual music for this, given that what I’m rehearsing to isn’t what I’d intended on using.

Another small realisation came about when I tried using Wolves in the Throne Room and reflexively slapped on Antichrist. There’s a genre of black metal, and separately a philosophy (Black Metal Theory) that touches on this genre, which takes the particular musical elements and aesthetics — the drums, guitars, voices and turns them from darkness to transcendentality, which yes, this can be serviceable for, but not here. (As well, I’m not so interested in a lot of North American metal, it’s a bit too full of bros swinging their dicks, or to put it another way, the cultural landscape in which black metal exists is a reflection of that culture, and in this instance, the US is synonymous with obnoxious.) abjection goes … well, I think into the abyss. It’s not satanic exactly, though uses those tropes, but it’s more of an extreme atheism, possibly not even philosophy. It might be a nihilism that seeks its own oblivion through the the act of destroying everything else. In this you could say it’s pretty negative.

So it’s starting to make sense, which I think is going to help a lot with the other parts. The next two weeks I’m rehearsing a bit more, also splitting my time with Melanie Lane on something I have not a clue about yet, except it might be called dust will not account for everything, and perhaps is influenced a little by Derrida’s essay in Writing and Difference: The Theatre of Cruelty and the Closure of Representation.

As for the video, it’s just a sketch of some ideas I’m dredging up, as well as a dialogue with my knee and achilles tendons — it’s peculiar to dance constantly paying attention to localised regions of catastrophe.

abjection — Rehearsal 3

Music this afternoon was: Gorgoroth, Antichrist; Mayhem, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas; plus bits of Horn’s Jahreszeiten, and Sunn O)))’s The Grimm Robe Demos and Black One. Also horrible, horrible jazz trombone/trumpet noodling filtering down from the rehearsal room upstairs. I played Mayhem very loudly then, and worked on my voice.

My voice, which goes from tubercular emptying of mastodon lungs up to “I’ve just sucked on helium!” in a series of arbitrary steps. There’s a huge gap in my register from high to helium, and above that very occasionally I can hit “tinnitus”, but none of these noises are connected. There’s also some “hypothetical notes” I know I can manifest in my throat if I can just twist my thinking a bit.

I was working a bit of some text which comes from Julia Kristeva’s The Powers of Horror, and oh dear she is a melodramatic writer, it’s all poetico-freudian. Possibly it’s the translation but I had quite a few moments of high embarrassment trying to turn bits of this into a script. A task for a lazy Sunday and a hatchet.

Five hours of solitary excitement today. There’s nothing much else to do but keep hacking away at whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing, and I don’t actually think I know. As usual, I spent most of the time working on movement — getting myself moving without suffering, and I’m really physically far from dancerly at the moment, as well as actually ‘dancing’, looking all old and arthritic compared to what I was doing last year.

And a bit of realisation I’ve reached the point of remaking the wheel, where last year I got some ideas fairly coherent and there’s not a lot of point in improvising for three hours solid trying to come up with ideas when they already exist. Though new stuff is also sprouting. I think I need to cut some of this in Final Cut and make sense of it (I video most of my messings around), try and recreate a single stream of performance, rather than bash away blindly at the same thing over and over from different sides. I have three days of rehearsal next week, so shall apply myself to this then.

The good news for my knee is that arthroscopy is no longer really likely, as it seems to have recovered mostly and the standard test don’t elicit a yipe from me, though I can’t imagine myself being able to do the stuff I was doing last year in any way in the near future.

So, abjection trolleys along. I definitely have the need to vanish into a studio for six weeks and really crawl into the bowel of this piece; there’s too much stuff that requires an intensity that doing it only a couple of times a week isn’t going to prepare me for.

In the meantime, there’s jute disintegration with Dasniya this weekend, things with Melanie Lane in December and possibly oh yes possible something with Daniel Jaber also. Excitement? Yes!

SUNN O))) @ Volksbühne/Prater

SUNN O))) @ Volksbühne/Prater
Berlin, Berlin
Sunday, May 24 2009, 8:00 PM

— ideologic

So. 24.05.2009, 20:00 Uhr Volksbühne im Prater

STEPHEN O’MALLEY, der Doyen des Drone Doom, stattet am 24. Mai gemeinsam mit seinem Kollegen GREG ANDERSON als SUNN O))) dem temporären Ausweichquartier der Volksbühne einen Besuch ab. Da sich das auf niedrigsten Frequenzen angesiedelte Gitarrenbrummen, seit jeher das unkaputtbare Markenzeichen dieser ebenso verehrten wie weithin gefürchteten Band, tief ins Mauerwerk noch jedes Veranstaltungsortes einzufräsen pflegt, bittet die Musikbühne alle Interessenten inständig, die im Spielplan angekündigte Anfangszeit von 20 Uhr unbedingt ernst zu nehmen. Es gibt einfach Konzerte, die vor der magischen Zeitgrenze von 22 Uhr beendet sein sollten.

Stephen O’Malley MySpace

— Volksbühne Berlin

… uhhh… speechless…


science is the new black metal

I was sitting at Cibo around lunchtime, getting ready to visit some sex shops around Hindley St looking for instruction manuals on Shibari, Japanese rope bondage, and to have a chat with Sally at ACArts about the choreography of ballet curtain calls. I got a call from ANAT, also in Hindley St, and responsible for all kinds of art-science fun.

Waah! I’m still bursting out in laughter at inappropriate moments, and completely, completely amazed they and Arts Victoria decided my lunatic proposal on Leibniz, 17th century science, 20th century astrophysics and dance dance dance was worth funding for an amount I have never come close to receiving before. I’m almost embarrassed to think how much.

I can’t even say any more. I’m sitting down but I need a drink. Absinthe!

I love astronomy so much. (I get to hang out at Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing,)

monadologie – science is the new black metal

A few months ago I got really excited by the Stereo satellites 3-D photographs and videos of the sun, there’s something colossal, menacing and gothic about what we see as a blinding white-ish disc revealed as a seething monster, scabbed and pockmarked, slowly boiling and fringed with an alien halo. It’s not what we imagine the sun god would look like.

So last night when the sun had properly set and Leigh Warren studios were murky, Gala and I tried to remember how to dance. It’s been eight months since we made temperance in Melbourne with Bonnie and there was a gap in our our duo where she should be sitting. For now it is just us, though maybe two more could arrive sometime, if it gets beyond whatever we do in the next couple of weeks. The genesis of monadologie back in February has remained fairly constant to now – Leibniz and his text, boris and Sunn0))), and of course the Stereo videos.

It’s kind of a conversation between people, like chamber music. It’s also … if science now, to observe the universe on any scale is to be understood, it’s only through layers of intermediaries; Mercury as the messenger of the gods. Three hundred years ago, Newton, Hooke, Leibniz observed the universe through tools that only barely stretched our senses beyond their means, and the tools themselves could be understood or manufactured by a person. I was thinking about this when I was applying for the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics residency, that what bodies moving and choreography can’t do is a literal one-to-one representation of data. A body of data being apprehended through a digital interface, can do this, representing it as audio, or light, or … a body can only ever approximate, and never is each iteration the same as the last.

It was … embarrassing last night to realise after the months passed how quickly our ability to improvise on a formal system vanishes, and that before we can even get to the stage of considering how to assemble movement, we have to relearn how to move. It is really pleasurable though to return to dancing, and to all the Forsythe stuff I seem to have accumulated.

The process then is fairly straightforward, in that systems of improvisation build up movement while videoing, then we cut and paste the good bits and try to learn them. Late last night though, I thought, “yeah but that’s just a bunch of steps, isn’t it? Aren’t I trying to get away from that?”

So the continuation of this is to create a bunch of rules that describe what happens if you find yourself in a particular situation, like if my location is very close to the front of gala, then do this set of instructions or else do these other ones. Because it’s all established with really formal improvisation techniques that can also be used to analyse whatever you’re doing while you’re doing it, there’s clear paths to dismantle whatever existing phrase we happen to be in the middle of.

I also thought that to have a film running, kinda as an external source of input, so say it’s Bladerunner, which could be in its entirety or cut up into a string of short pieces, then every time the blimp floats past advertising off-world living, the ‘blimp phrase’ has to be done. Ultimately it’s removing the act of choreographing one step from the ossification of making and setting steps. Step-making is a clear, well-worn and inescapable path that proceeds both spatially and temporally in a fixed manner. I’m trying to do something like a cascade, where whatever starting point there is, the movement keeps branching and bifurcating, cutting back across itself, slowing and speeding up, like a braided river, any path can be taken.


One big sadness at leaving Melbourne is missing Sunn0))) and boris vibrating organs and viscera at the Hi-Fi Bar on May 9th. I’m really, really not happy. And now they are doing a special performance with bits of Goatsnake, Burial Chamber Trio, Khanate and Striborg. It’s a black night of DOOOOM!!!! (Last time I screamed. This time I cried.)

0))) with Striborg!!!!!


GREG ANDERSON (of Sunn 0))), Goatsnake, Burial Chamber Trio)
STEPHEN O’MALLEY (of Sunn 0))), KTL, Khanate, Gravetemple)
OREN AMBARCHI (of Touch records, Gravetemple, Burial Chamber Trio)
ATTILA CSIHAR (of Mayhem, Tormentor, Aborym, Gravetemple, Burial Chamber Trio)

Tuesday 8th May 2007
The Toff in Town

As you will know, US doom-drone behemoth SUNN 0))) will be performing a HUGE must-see show together with Japanese monsters BORIS at the Hi-fi Bar on Wednesday 9th May. However we are pleased to announce a Melbourne-only intimate ‘improv’ show that will include collaborations with members of black metal legends Mayhem and Striborg! This show will be completely different to the Hi-fi show and strictly limited to capacity at Melbourne’s newest venue The Toff in Town on Tuesday 8th May

This ritual will feature the first public appearance of Tasmania’s Sin Nanna aka STRIBORG, making a special & rare live collaboration with Attila Csihar, (legendary vocalist of Mayhem), Aussie avant-maverick Oren Ambarchi, and Greg Anderson & Stephen O’Malley of Sunn 0))). Blackened low-end psychedelics not for the faint hearted – a one-time event not to be missed!!!

Unearthly ritual with strictly limited capacity. You can pre-purchase tickets to avoid disappointment from The Toff in Town, Metropolis Bookstore, Polyester Records and the Corner Box Office – phone: 9427 9198 or on-line: Tickets on sale Thursday 26th April. Pre-sale tickets: + bf / on the door if available.

The Toff in Town
Level 2, Curtin House
252 Swanston Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9639 8770

— Southern Lord Records

leibniz, monadologie, choreographing and thinking too much

I’ve taken to walking back through Faulkner Park, between the Domain and, I guess you could say, Prahran, though the suburbs are not so important as the linking of sections of a city, scraps of topology. The meandering backwater paths off the automotive and overheated parallel striations of main roads is where a city becomes, if it is fortunate, human. Melbourne I think is one of the less successful cities for this, constantly dissected by blaring highways that delineate the end of walking.

Back to the park though. Ballet this morning, and after yesterday’s over-excitement of discovering the impending tour of Sunn 0))) and Boris, all I have been listening to is Boris. OK, and Sunn 0))). It was Emile who introduced me to much of what constitutes my current listening repertoire, and plenty of that has turned up in my performances since 2005. As much as going to DanceWEB in 2003 changed what I was doing and resulted in extermination, 4.7 gig of mp3s from Emile had much the same effect on hell.

After temperance last year (of which I have just heard a rumour that it might be getting cut some time soon … ish), I’ve had a work fermenting primarily based on Gottfried Willhelm Leibniz, inventor of, among other things, calculus and binary numeral system (those of you who’ve seen me count to 1024 in binary using my fingers will appreciate the high geeky adoration I feel for Leibniz). So I’m currently ploughing through his 1714 text Monadologie, and after half a page comparing the English and German translations, decided to go with the original French version, though I really wish he’d written it in whatever dialect of German is spoken in Vienna instead of being clever and writing it in French, my French sucks at this level.

So while the third part of the extermination-hell-pestilence-?-?? cycle is coming along nicely, I have been thinking about Leibniz … and Boris … and dancing, and I suppose in this context Michel Serres, who made the analogy between a calculator and a dancer in Genèse, that I would really like to quote here, but …

Perhaps what intrigues me here is also what I find fascinating in this era when a new system, that of rationalism and science swallowed whole the previous one which to our eyes looked rife with the abysses of the Dark Ages. Though to remember Isaac Newton was as concerned with alchemy as he was with physics, I think is fertile ground for attempting an understanding the eruptions of religious and spiritual insanity in our culture which is supposed to the the heir of that age.

Insofar as this is so, it underlies both the cycle of five works (that I really need a name for) and this current, other, piece. Perhaps though it can be seen as the opposite, or counterpoint to the cycle. If the five works constitute (in part, and being severely reductionist here) a meditation on the eruption of the supernatural into understanding bodies in the world, then this new piece on Leibniz would be, and I’m struggling to find the right words here … in which the capacity for the mind and human imagination allows for the creation of new worlds, and so sets us free from what we have been, what we already are.

Back to Boris then. I have some fairly defined ideas on how this piece should proceed, and I think one of the interesting things for me right now is dance as endurance, in the transcendental sense that shows up in so many cultures, and also that utter sloughing off of the body that occurs in mountaineering. Another is insanely, almost heart-rendingly complicated choreography that was in part where temperance was going, and listening to Boris while walking in the park, I knew I’d found my music. Oh, another thing is that it’s a solo. For me.

sunn 0))) destroy asia … with Boris!!!!!

I screamed.

sunn 0))) upcoming axtions!!!

sunn 0))) will be doing our first shows of 2007 overseas. Below are the basic details and dates. Tix for the Australia and Japan dates WITH BORIS(!!!!!) are on sale now and selling fast!

March 18th – Bergen Cathedral, Bergen
(Lineup: Anderson, SOMA, Ambarchi, Csihar, Steve Moore,TOS, Lasse Marhaug)

(Lineup: Anderson, SOMA, Ambarchi, Csihar, TOS)

May 3 – Totally Huge New Music Festival, Perth
May 5 – The Columbian, Brisbane
May 6 – Factory Theatre, Sydney
May 9 – HiFi Bar, Melbourne
May 13 – Lots, Niigata, Niigata
May 16 – Quattro, Nagoya, Aichi
May 17 – Quattro, Shinsaibashi, Osaka
May 20 – Citta, Kawasaki, Kanagaw

— Southern Lord Records

burning churches – the spirit of christmas

rrraaaaghgghghgghhhhh!!!! etc.

Sunday afternoon, plusplus destruction of language followed by the invention of the Hexadecimal Kickdrum (successor to the Double and Triple Kickdrums, and friend of ∞-n Kickdrum), followed by two-part harmonies of Morbid Angel (more like haaaargh!monies :snort:) … “Ghouls attack the church / Crush the holy priest”. No satanic pigeon squads of bedlam though. Cheese? Of course! (Ghouls! Attract the cheese!). Hello? Hello? GHRAGH!! Yes, afternoon tea with Emile.

So it was a big waah! moment today when Southern Lord Records said “see all our music online now!“, as in Sunn 0))), Abruptum, Urgehal (as in satanic Norwegian black metal), 80s thrash-metal crossover punks Clown Alley, Boris, Khanate, and Goatsnake! It’s like a Southern Lord compilation album free to download now. 29 tracks. Drool. Slurp. My iPod’s going to take a beating later.

sunn0))) and children killers

Feeling a little grim yesterday, I went shopping for what I hoped would be something cheerful, like a Bathory or Abruptum t-shirt, instead I ended up with an Agoraphobic Nosebleed t-shirt that says, “I’ll get you fucked up on some drug that you have never done before and totally talk shit to you” (yeah, I’m all class) and a Goatsnake cd, who in part are also Sunn0))), and sound weirdly like a valiumed Kyuss – well yeah one of them is in there too, so probably not so strange.

So I was wasting my life on the internet and discovered in quick succession: Southern Lord Records » KTL CD (featuring Stephen O’Malley) available now, Dennis Cooper and most important of all, Gisèle Vienne, who puts the Kindertotenlieder into the KTL. It really makes my night when I find someone whose idea of a good show runs something like this:

‘Kinderotenlieder’s’ setting is a combination black metal concert/funeral in the dead of winter in the middle of the Austrian woods. At the moment, we’re planning to chill the stage to a very low temperature and have lots of fake snow both falling onto and covering it. Gisele’s and Jonathan’s Austrian trip was undertaken partly to research ‘krampus,’ an ancient annual Austrian tradition centered around Salzburg where packs of men dress in elaborate demonic costumes, get shit-faced drunk, and travel from town to town physically attacking/punishing people they decide are sinners. A ‘krampus’ attack occurs in one section of our piece. Another point of the Austrian trip was to find out how the dolls Gisele uses in her work would look and perform/survive in such forbidding circumstances.

— Now in preproduction: ‘Kindertotenlieder’

or this:

Setting: Dead of winter. Remote Austrian forest. A funeral at which a Death Metal band is performing, or a concert by a Death Metal band whose stage show has a funeral motif.

Characters: Band, Lifesize Realistic Boy Doll #1, Lifesize Realistic Boy Doll #2, Ghost, Man, Krampus, The Winner, Audience.

LRBD1: How cool would it have been to live back when the wind and birds and avalanches sounded like Black Sabbath, and killing gave people these huge fucking hard-ons? You’d be so dead.

LRBD2: If death is like a million miles of this then pick up that rock over there and pretend you’re Poland in the Forties and my head is Adolf Hitler.

LRBD1: When I grow up I want to chug-a-lug a zillion beers then behead your wife and kids. What do you want to be? I mean besides my sex slave slut.

— Some monologues/dialogues from ‘Kindertotenlieder,’ part 1