Standing on the fringes of experimental music, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix composes for Liturgy, a fairly new Black Metal band hailing from Brooklyn and currently on a short tour around the East Coast. The 26-year-old songwriter joins Greg Fox, Tyler Dusenbury and Bernard Gann in the band, on blastbeats, bass and guitar, respectively. Liturgy’s sophomore record, Aesthetica, dropped in May of this year via Thrill Jockey. Its 2009 record, Renihilation, saw critical reviews that noted the band’s abstract, often atonal waves that crash against the tropes of a raging genre.
Aesthetica is a collection of genre-searing, decibel-punishing paeans, drinking the blood of Black Metal and staining the rituals of Hardcore, Classical and its neo-counterpart Spectralism. Such songs as “High Gold” and “Generation” could annihilate heaven and hell, while “Helix Skull” and “Glass Earth” summon souls from the Baroque period and beyond.
“A lot of the music was written on the keyboard and some of it was composed out on paper,” Hunt-Hendrix explains, checking in by phone in Brooklyn. “It’s weird. Some of the different riffs and patterns were written years ago. It’s kind of all over the place.
“As far as writing on the guitar,” he adds, “I’ve always liked playing above the 12th fret. Not really soloing or shredding, but playing chords and letting them ring out.”
Six years ago, Hunt-Hendrix would have told anyone that he wanted to be a composer, rather than the leader of a Black Metal foursome. Something resonated with him when he came across the work of Glenn Branca, an avant garde guitarist influential on Sonic Youth and other like-minded adventurers. .
“I’m very interested in the European avant-garde Classical scene, and American Postminimalism,” Hunt-Hendrix says. “Using sound as a material instead of pitches and making symphonic soundscapes — I really like that music a lot.”
Hunt-Hendrix is still exploring that dearly beloved music and he’s not sure if Liturgy’s next offering will take the vein of Aesthetica or something completely different. In 2012, he starts a year-long residency at the Issue Project Room, a Classical music center in New York.
“Who knows what will happen there,” he muses. “I know I want to do something with a more narrative flow… even operatic.”