Best of 2016: EORDESLAJYR

EORÐESLAJYR (pronounced Earth Slayer) are an independent Irish avant-garde music trio. Based in Dublin, the band includes local musicians Sam Burton on vocals (Spudgun), Simon Bird on synthesizer, and Tom Morris on guitar (Turning Down Sex). The group originally formed with the intention of writing and performing experimental soundtracks for lesser known cult/silent films. However, their debut effort HÄXAN quickly mutated into a complex arrangement involving collaboration with cellist Anna Clock, saxophonist Sam Comerford and percussionist Ross Chaney.
EORÐESLAJYR’s debut album, HÄXAN, was released by Black Mass via cassette (available here), as well as digitally through the band’s Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Spotify.
The album was mastered by Colin Marston (of Krallice, Gorguts, Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia) in Menegroth, The Thousand Caves NYC. He has recorded and mixed for Liturgy, Kayo Dot, and Castevet, among many others.
Haxan is an album of music inspired by and written to work as a soundtrack for Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 silent film Haxan (aka Witchcraft Through The Ages). Häxan tells the tale of Satan worship, demonic possession and the persecution of witches in medieval Europe. Originally released in 1922, it is one of the great masterworks of early horror cinema and a pioneering film for its rich use of lighting, composition and special effects. EORÐESLAJYR’s eclectic soundtrack emphasizes the extreme hysteria of the witch hunts and the dark religious fervor it inspired through a constantly shifting, varied blend of styles.
Drawing influences from acts such as The Body, Sun O))), SWANS, and Fantomas, the music ranges from heavy industrial doom and frenzied tribal cacophonies to brooding textural ambiences and lush choral arrangements.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the band to ask about their favorite albums of 2016. This is what they told us.
The Drones – Feelin’ Kinda Free
The Drones are a band that I’m honestly not that familiar with, but I was recommended this album earlier in the year and listened to it to death. While the songwriting might be considered by some to be not the most groundbreaking there’s a bunch of really interesting textures on the album, some great guitar playing with a lot of bite and feedback, a tonne of infectious hooks; and a really strong, snarling vocal performance by Gareth Liddiard. This album also introduced me to the Taman Shud, which is incredibly interesting of itself.
Gnaw Their Tongues – Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent
There seems to be an overabundance of one man black metal bands these days but I think Gnaw Their Tongues reigns supreme. This latest album is terrifying in the best way, I was blown away by the varied orchestration and wildly dark production. It’s like a horror soundtrack that has been meshed together with raw black metal and doom.
Anna Meredith – Varmints
It’s really amazing to listen to something that is so experimental and also so accessible. The instrumentation and timbres used here are just so weird but work really well together. This album is proof that there’s still plenty of room for innovation in the traditional pop song format.
Psalm Zero – Stranger to Violence
No one else is doing what Psalm Zero are right now. They combine elements of metal, pop, industrial and electronic music to make something totally unique. But what really makes this album stand out is the quality of the songwriting, it’s consistently brilliant from start to finish.
Disasterpeace – Hyper Light Drifter
It’s rare for me that the music for a video game would be so good I could happily sit and listen to it on its own.  I love the sense of isolation and sadness that permeates the whole album. The beautiful pulsing synthesizers are the perfect soundtrack to a lonely journey through a post-apocalyptic fantasy world.
Helen Money – Become Zero
Heavy, raw and beautiful, this album was written after the death of both her parents. It’s a really interesting exploration of string tones in a more rock/metal context with ambient and drone elements thrown in there too. Even in this heavier context, the melodies still shine through in a really powerful way.
Phurpa/Shibalba – Teachings of Eastern Traditions
We’ve been big fans of the tibetan chanting group Phurpa, ever since they did some shows with Sunn O))). The tones and textures on this album are amazing, the whole thing is like a dark and powerful ceremony. ”Ultimate insight cut into Emptiness, as we drink from a skull the Nectars of Wisdom.”
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead are kind of a polarizing band within EORÐESLAJYR, with our guitarist Tom not being the biggest fan. All the same it was great to see Radiohead return with another great album but also one that is meditative, personal and mature. It’d be easy for them at this stage to crank out an album of ‘hits’, and I think it should be applauded that they chose not to do that this time, and instead pared things back to let the songwriting speak for itself.
Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
Definitely the spookiest and most playful album about vampires and menstruation that I heard this year. Jenny Hval is an artist who isn’t afraid to play with genre forms and is always finding new and interesting soundscapes to underscore her magnificent vocal range and unashamedly explicit yet somewhat tongue-in-cheek lyrics. I caught the end of her set at Primavera Sound festival this year where she danced gleefully around the stage with what appeared to be a cape fashioned out of a bin liner. I’m always excited to see what she does next.
David Bowie – Blackstar
I heard Blackstar for the first time three days prior to Bowie’s death; and I remember being absolutely floored by the fact that he had managed to create one of his most evocative, haunting and innovatively experimental albums – something that few artists achieve so late in their career. When I awoke three days later to the news that Bowie had passed away, it suddenly framed the album in a completely different light with the revelation that it had been recorded whilst he was battling cancer. I feel privileged to have had the chance to hear the album for the first time objectively and appreciate it for what it is at face value. While it is important for the album’s narrative to consider the circumstances in which it was created; Blackstar is more than a bleak swan song – it’s a beautiful and transcendent work of art and one of Bowie’s very best.
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