“Her name was Carol, I remember that name”

Things have been entirely too upbeat here recently at Gem of the Week, XTC brought us the summer and Black Bananas gave us something wonderful to swagger to. We’ll skip over the week where we all shed a tear to The Purple One.

Enter Deathpile, the distorted electronic outfit fronted by Jonathan Canady also of bands Angel of Decay and Dead World, as well as several solo works. Canady’s work with electronics has seen him create some of the most unsettling albums of the last decade. Taking synths, treated instruments and feedback to the next plateau he creates music designed to unnerve and at times repulse. Perhaps his finest work came in 2003 with the album GR. A concept album written from the point of view of Gary Ridgway, the USA’s most prolific serial killer, Canady created a thirty-odd minute album that plays as though you are trapped in the mind of a deranged lunatic staring you down blankly and with ferocious anguish recount his crimes to you. It’s nightmare in a damaged-brain basically.

If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Ridgway you may know him from his title “The Green River Killer”. I remember seeing documentaries about him in the early 2000’s. At the time his identity remained a mystery. His murders began in the 1982 and continued to as late as 1998. Ridgway would target woman and girls who were runaways, vulnerable or prostitues, strangle them and dump their bodies by highways, woodland areas and in Green River in Washington State. Often Ridgway would return to where he hid the remains of the bodies to have intercourse with them. Some of his victims remain unnamed and unfound as Ridgway himself didn’t know there names. He was arrested in 2001.

Well now I’ve cheered us all up I’ll put the kettle on.

Musically the album plays out through a series of screeching feedback and warped spikes of industrial mayhem. It’s a tough listen by any stretch of the imagination. Canady screams his lyrics throughout. They’re not sung. Only screamed. Screaming about his wife being a “whore” and giving him a disease. Being addicted to the killing of prostitutes. Hauntingly in the final song he declares that he has locked all his crimes away in his brain and he won’t answer questions about the crimes; “You will never know/and I will never tell…”. The only respite in the piece is a twelve minute “interlude” in the album is dedicated solely to listing the killers known victims whilst adding the date they were abducting and found.

‘Shrine’ stands out on the album if only for the fact that in the torturous noise of the rest of the album the songs contant refrain of “Body and blood” comes as a some weird sonic relief. That’s not to say that the song is any less disturbing than the rest of GR. It’s low register brings with it something sinister. Like Ridgway himself is confiding in you alone knowing that you can’t tell anyone because who would care? The bluntness of the lyrics are compelling as much as they are sickening. It’s not music for the casual listener. It’s music for people who want to feel something, get a genuine visceral reaction. In this case that reaction could be revulsion, uneasy or intrigued. ‘Shrine’ stands out as an oddly melodic song in a feedback haze. Seek it out and then give the album a listen.

 

Have a lovely weekend all!

 

“You will never know/and I will never tell…”