Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bells

Efdemin - Acid Bells

The standout stonker from German techno artist Efdemin's recent debut full-length. The name of which is exemplarily self-explanatory. It indeed sounds like a close-range lysergic encounter with the vibrations produced by a swinging mass of cast iron. Really dope. Out on Dial records, which also put out Pantha du Prince, so they're basically killing it right now.

My parents were both raised in devoted religious environments, and being free-thinking boomers discontent with the rigidity of such an upbringing, oversaw the maturation of their two sons with the strictest secular intentions. My father, a level-headed humanist, bore no lingering attachment to organized religion. My mother, in contrast, still visited churches of her own accord, especially when traveling, for the sake of the musical performances, clearly a result of her being raised in a family known as the "musical Judds," who performed together Patridge-style in various local churches in Australia. I do not know if my own soul-scraping obsession with organs, bells and other church gear is a result of accompanying my mother on such visits or part of my own Rausch-nature. Either way, I regard church organs and bells as things of real beauty, and the sonorous outring upon midday in a small European courtyard is enough to induce in me a mildly trance-like state.

This is maybe why one of my favorite moments in cinema is the bell-casting scene from Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev. Rublev is crossing Russia, he has taken a vow of silence, and he witnesses the casting of the great bell. Boriska, son of the bellmaker, has in the wake of his father's death announced deceitfully that he possesses the secret of bell-making, and takes over the grand construction. Shit goes south, his head is on the line, but when the ceremony takes place, the bell rings perfectly. Overcome with emotion, Boriska collapses and confesses his fraud. He had carried out the bell-casting possessing only a mad surge of faith. Rublev is down, breaks his vow and says "you will make bells, I will paint icons."

From the "Casting of the Bell" scene from Andrei Rublev:

Lastly, there is Poe's poem on bells and their unstable emotional character. In four parts, beginning with cheerful anticipation, then consummation, then fiery ruin, then doleful purgatory, all evoked by the clanging of these instruments. Plus the rhythm of the words sounds like metal smashing together to resonant effect.

Edgar Allan Poe - "The Bells"

Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


Hear the mellow wedding bells -
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! -how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!


Hear the loud alarum bells -
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now -now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells -
Of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!


Hear the tolling of the bells -
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people -ah, the people -
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone -
They are neither man nor woman -
They are neither brute nor human -
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells,
Of the bells -
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

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