Liturgy's Hunter Hunt-Hendrix: Danish Composers and Proto-Rappers

Liturgy's 2009 album Renihilation is an ecstatic, ferocious, and brainy blast of black-metal art, indebted as much to medieval religious music and minimalism as it is to Darkthrone and Burzum. It's the result of frontman (and Columbia University grad) Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's wide-ranging listening habits, which he shares below.

Kontra Quartet

Vagn Holmboe: The Complete String Quartets (Dacapo, 2010)

I'm very interested in Scandinavian anti-modern modernist composers who make reactionary, expansive, anachronistic post-Romantic symphonies. And each nation has one. Finland has Sibelius, Sweden has Alfven, Denmark has Nielsen. I believe they drink the same nectar as the black-metal second wave, though I can't prove it. Anyway, I recently discovered Holmboe. He is much less well-known than these three, but he is Danish. He has symphonies and some sacred music, and a requiem for Nietzsche, but so far I've only checked out his cycle of string quartets, which are said to be his best work. Really deep and profound stuff. I haven't had a chance to digest the entire cycle yet, but so far I really like the fourth and fifth.

The Last Poets

This Is Madness (Douglas, 1971)

The Watts Prophets

Things Gonna Get Greater: The Watts Prophets 1969-1971 (Water, 2005)

As is more or less well-known, rap was fathered simultaneously by the Last Poets in New York and the Watts Prophets in L.A. I love listening to both of these groups, because you hear a sort of embryonic rap, a weird hybrid of free-jazz style spoken-word, chanting, prophetic/apocalyptic preaching, and seriously street revolutionary fervor. Like it isn't really rap yet, but it is. Sort of like listening to Blue Cheer re metal. So far I think Last Poets is the better of the two groups. This Is Madness is the second Last Poets record; Things Gonna Get Greater is a compilation of the first two Watts Prophets records.


King Night (IAMSOUND, 2010)

I surprise myself with how much I like this record. I can't even put my finger on why it is yet, but that's part of why it is so addictive. The combination of a sort of watercolored Nine Inch Nails vibe and eerie ransom-voice rapping creates an effect I've never felt before. Definitely one of the best records of 2010. Probably the best, at least the best that I'm aware of.


Eparistera Daimones (Century Media, 2010)

I think Thomas Gabriel Warrior's comeback has been a surprise to everyone, and it is awesome. In a way the Tryptikon record is just like early Celtic Frost except slower and doomier. But there's something masterful about the way TGW makes the hooks work at the slower tempo—he almost makes them work harder by really squeezing them out. The slight tempo changes that happen at just the right moments are what keep me coming back to this album.