Others have explored the direct connection between experimental classical music composers and more recent extreme metal, but the Los Angeles-area project Hvile I Kaos brings that bond to life. On their new album Black Morning, Winter Green, the music almost entirely features only cello work — and there’s not a boring moment in sight. The project’s mastermind goes by Kakophonix and has performed with other similarly styled acts like the “pagan folk” project Osi and the Jupiter. Here, the artist pushes cello music to its limit, with a performance of the same kind of somber, gripping, and growing melody like defines frigid black metal — just, the only actual instrument here at play is a cello.
The music delivers an experience that feels reminiscent of the soundtrack of some fast-paced fantasy set in a potential-filled but clearly volatile place like some kind of overgrown forest. Among other poignant elements, the artist pays a lot of attention to the speed of their performances, and the jumps from slower but steady builds into music that’s faster than before and so on add a wind-in-your-face aspect to this listening experience. Carrying on with the soundtrack metaphor, listening to the album feels like rushing through a foreboding forest that’s completely surrounded you with the bustling but dangerous life of the woods.
The music also has plenty of brightness, which feels intertwined with the anxious, faster melodies rather than isolated off by itself. The alternations build into an eventual portion of abruptly repeated melodic bursts that feel like some kind of regal march — as if you’ve arrived at some kind of shadowed throne in the volatile heart of that forest.
With Black Morning, Winter Green, Kakophonix has really beautifully and memorably transformed some of the raw grandeur at the heart of the most poignant black metal into a slightly more accessible but no less outre and transforming creation. At times, the deeply emotionally stirring music feels like drapes of sound falling across the listener. The songs pack waves — real, tangible waves — with a subtly jarring revelation of some of the tension and dark majesty that have underlined some of our most preciously extreme sonic journeys all along.