Appalachian folk burning televangelists at the stake.
Kristin Hayter’s new album as Lingua Ignota continues her quest to balance catharsis and raising hell at the same time. “Sinner Get Ready” is an uncomfortable album to listen to but utterly captivating. Mixing together Appalachian folk instruments, dramatic vocals and plenty of snippets of Televangelist speeches – it feels like we’re throwing religion in the fire.
The beauty of this album comes from its animalism. The instrumentation is Earthy. We have deep organs, whistles, zithers, woodwind, banjo, cello and whistles with only the odd bit of piano, drum and digital trickery popping up on a few tracks. This means that the album’s dark roots feel like a seance at times as Lingua Ignota charges in with dramatic organ stabs, dreary drones and string slides as the world turns on its head. It feels at times like a horror score and nothing conveys that better than some of the vocal performances Hayter brings. At times her voice sounds remarkably similar to Amanda Palmer and she has a similar range. At times she is throaty and guttural like a survival cry for help (I Who Bend the Tall Grass). Other times she sings like a mourning angel (The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata). There are moments of solace but these are few and far between. This album is a battlefield of agony, purging, haunted anger and bitter rage.
Whilst at times this feels like a witches ceremony (Many Hands), it’s the ceremony of religion that is being argued here. The concept of devotion and completely giving yourself to a higher faith without consequence is the central theme of the album. Whether you are becoming the servant or reading out your requirements to join this religion, each side of the act is explored and picked apart in this horror score. When Lingua Ignota’s voice is layered up to become an anti-choir, it really is powerful and terrifying art.
That art carries through into the use of media snippets throughout the album. Whether it’s churchgoers declaring they are “covered in Jesus’ blood” so they are safe from Covid or televangelist Jimmy Swaggart giving empty apologies on stage for his sex scandals, they add another layer of fear and terror. The audio clips rarely take centre stage, they hide in the drones and murk of the slow burn that the album provides but in the track “The Sacred Liniment of Judgement”, Swaggart’s speech is the spine of everything this album stands for. What is given in one hand, is taken in the other and the rules of engagement are formed through a kaleidoscope of interpretation and hidden needs. We are all sinners in someone else’s eyes but through our own, we can shape the world to forgive ourselves or justify anything we want. I also love the thought that “The Eternal Flame of Centralia” is like a man-made hell from our own blindness.
The entire album is an emotional gut-punch and one I am captivated by over and over again, digging deeper each listen. I like exploring the lore and references used and the ideas the album chews upon. Musically it is a hellish masterpiece and one for anyone who digs experimental, gothic folk music. This will be an album I’ll still be processing and thinking about in ten years time. A true work of art and contender for my album of the year.
Recommended track: Man is Like A Spring Flower
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