Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is selling New Introductory Lectures on the System of Transcendental Qabala for a mere $7.00. $7.00. Let that sink in, because this is not a series of typos where I keep forgetting to put a few extra zeroes in that previously stated final price listing. No, this album (read: bearer of enlightenment) is up for purchase at seven measly bucks. How do you put a price on higher learning? Well, I can tell you right now it’s $7.00. $7.00 for your very own piece of self-actualization, of a fuller understanding regarding existentialism, our being, our being’s relationship to our being’s surroundings, of a heightened sense of superiority regarding all others’ intellect, especially, but not limited to, insightful musings on spirituality and deeper, better sophistication. But don’t fear, this isn’t the standard string of transcendentalism so many charlatans have tried to swindle you with at a steep price; no, this is Hunter God Damn Hunt-Hendrix, delivering unto us his very first, in what can only be hoped to be a series of, gesamtkunstwerks with special emphasis on all that’s encompassed within the ideas behind Qabala and life force energy.
Hunt-Hendrix, one-half of the creative force behind Liturgy, is not only giving us the gift of knowledge, but he’s delivered it in such a way that no one can truly ever understand it, both philosophically and literally. Sure, we can summarize his very own explanation of the album’s purpose, but even then the jargon of spiritual babble is lost within the actual music. Supposedly splaying out influences from rock, electronic, rap, and classical music, New Introductory Lectures is meant to be a “deadlock” of influences, beautifully melded together, maybe in the same way energy melds throughout all of Earth and beyond’s life forces. But honestly, none of that’s relevant to the music. The true beauty in Hunt-Hendrix’s unfiltered, unrestricted, unstoppable assault of noise-glitch-hop is how painfully unaware it is. By never lighting up, songs like “Bezel II”, with its video game blips spliced into blast beats of bells and chimes, which are all topped with Hunter’s garbled moans, are left to be so serious that they become ridiculous by nature. There’s a slight hint in the obvious wrongness of these pairings that gives credence to the idea that there just might be some underlying commentary involved. But unless this is a schtick that Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has never let go of, I’m fairly confident I’m giving him too much credit.
Anyways, fans of Liturgy who’ve spilled onto the scene because of the whole transcendental black metal motif need not apply. The metal elements have been filtered out in favor of the electronic and the percussive. Despite Hunter always referring to the rap influence when discussing this album, that’s one element that’s (probably thankfully) entirely lost. Any track that features “rapping” is indistinguishable from The Ark Work-style Tibetan monk chants. “Tense Stage” and “Ontological Love” have verses, kind of, but they feel like structured moan-hums timed above glitch-hop-influenced electronic beats. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually pretty captivating. But there’s a pretty immediate separation between the promise of the album and what its actual contents are.
Everything about New Introductory Lectures has been calculated and related back to whatever Kel Valhaal – the monicker of this one-manned offshoot of Liturgy and title of track three from The Ark Work – wants it to. But it’s all in theory. Reading about and listening to Kel’s debut are two entirely different beasts, though they’re both explorative and somewhat eye-opening in their own way. Are tracks like “Mea Culpa” and “Nmwe” meant to be representative of anything, or are they mood-setters for their respective follow-up epics? There’s no doubt an elaborate explanation, but does it matter? All answers seem to lead to a dozen more questions, and maybe that’s the point: that all of these discussions of the world around us are so impenetrable to humans that asking questions is inherently nugatory. From the loosely stitched-together genre-bending to the stupefying density in which philosophies and archaic teachings have been tacked on is at once repelling and undeniably spellbinding. It’s enchanting and enthralling, perhaps only because of its incessancy. Review aside, Hunter puts it better than any writer bogged down by the plights of grasping existentialism could ever dream: ontological love! ontological love! ontological love!
– Zach W.