Several tracks on this album feature multiple simultaneous tempi, something I haven't previously explored aside from triplets (a 3:2 tempo ratio) and hemiolas (a 2:3 ratio). The coda of the first track features a tempo ratio of 7:8, with seven beats to a measure in the guitars and 808 and eight beats to a measure in the bass, drums and processed rhythm. The closeness of the 7:8 ratio creates a rhythmic interference pattern or “dissonance”—the ear expects resolution in the form of one tempo either slowing or accelerating to match the other and establish a common pulse. Other tracks use more complex ratios, like the 4:5:6:7 ratio at the most complex point of “I Am in Athens”. With four simultaneous tempi, unlike two, the feeling of being pulled towards a resolution dissipates, perhaps because there are so many possible resolutions, and the rhythmic aggregate stabilizes. “Palimpsest” doesn't use multiple tempi but is structured around a consistent 33-beat hypermeter, something I haven't used before in my metal work. I've been writing music in shifting meters for so long that having a single hypermeter governing an entire track seemed almost like cheating; having every part of the track last 33(n) beats allowed me to interrelate the track's sections to a greater degree than I usually manage. These rhythmic strategies are part of a long-term goal to unite aspects of my electronic work, which uses process-based gradient structures and is concerned primarily with rhythm and timbre (see Dialectics), and my black metal work, which is pitch-oriented and structured in traditional discrete sections.
The pitch content that opens “Woodcutter” is a microtonal extension of the opening theme of Brahms' first piano quartet, though it's not easy (or necessary) to hear the source in the final arrangement. The guitars play transformations of this material created through standard serial operations and also by winding or spiraling through a complete or partial array as if it were a labyrinth, a technique of Ursula Mamlok's described in Straus's Twelve-Tone Music in America. The opening section of “Consciousness” is a sequence of ninth chords expanding microtonally from darkest/most compact to brightest/broadest. A few of the riffs on this album are sound collages inspired by Inquisition, who often brilliantly alternate between several playing styles in a single 2-4 measure riff. I recorded myself improvising in a few different performance styles (slide, harmonics, arpeggios, palm-muting), chopped up the improvisations into samples and collaged them into riffs. The riff that opens “I Am in Athens” was inspired by the feedback-punctuated riffs of bands like Grief and Eyehategod.
“At the Limit of Fertile Land” is from Boulez's nod to Klee. “Like the Woodcutter Sawing His Hands” is a phrase from Renée Riese Hubert's “Three Women Poets: Renée Rivet, Joyce Mansour, Yvonne Carouth.” The title “Consciousness Is Nature's Nightmare” is from Cioran's Tears and Saints by way of D.F
. Wallace's late masterpiece “The Suffering Channel” and the title “I Am in Athens and Pericles Is Young” is from Frank Belknap Long's “The Hounds of Tindalos,” though I can't exactly recommend the story. The line “white stone in the white sunlight” is from Jack Gilbert's “Ovid in Tears.” The image behind the ouroboros on the cover is an x-ray of Rembrandt's De Staalmeesters.