Antoni Tàpies and Sarpanitum

Antoni Tàpies produces kind of primal landscapes, sunken continents, relicts or only ground plans for ancient temples or fortresses, seeming relicts of a past long gone, traces of the most atavistic humanity, presence both of the earth and its inhabitants. It is submerged, it has lost its meaning and functionality, it has become levelled and incomprehensible but is still there and is indestructible and will there be long after our demise. Sunken into the depth and weathered those architectures probably did not make much sense in the first place but still they confront us with the enigmas of the world and of humanity that tries to overcome them and gain mastery. You want to come close to those paintings, to better understand them. They´re immersive. In their silence they seem talkative and carriers of knowledge – as they carry ancient dignity. You´re attracted to them. They´re pacifying and stirring.

Like Wols, Antoni Tàpies was a master of Art Informel, in contrast to Wols his expression was less explosive and volcanic, it was meditative and concerned about giving order. He liked to use materials like clay, sand, etc. and someone said that Tàpies´ artworks are more „tellurian“ than they are metaphysical. Yet of course the tellurian with its mystery and its depth and ancientness and reaching into the most shapeless and faceless future as well is the most metaphysical of all: That is what Zarathustra meant when he said: Die Welt ist tief/Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht (i.e. the world cannot be fully discovered by even the most advanced mind but always carries surprises). And Antoni Tàpies scratches on the strata of the earth, or throws them up. „I was obsessed with materiality … the pastiness of phenomena which I interpreted using thick material, a mixture of oil paint and whiting, like a kind of inner raw material that reveals the „noumenal“ reality which I did not see as an ideal or supernatural world apart but rather as the single total and genuine reality of which everything is composed“, says Tàpies (so again you have it that art, and creative sentiment, supersedes the epistemological „thing“ vs the „thing in itself“ puzzle and replaces it by a meta-noumenon, as it reveals the existential ontology of a thing, i.e. the embeddedness of a thing in all possible context). These artworks are haptically suggestive, and acoustically. You may want to touch them or stroke them with you hand, to get a sense of it, or hold your ear to them, to listen to the silent sound of the earth. Someone said, the earth is constantly making a sound. That sound will be all in your mind.

It is something you cannot directly communicate with, it is ancestral. It is mysterious, enigmatic, evocative. It gives you a sense of your own vanity and your own importance. Probably we´re alone, or very intelligent species are really very, very rare in the universe due to the right biological combinatory play to produce complex life being very unlikely (hence the Fermi paradox i.e. that, if the universe was so crowded with intelligent life, why hasn´t there been an obvious contact between us and them so far?). And that´s not even the end of the glorious story: In the future, as we advance, we might even colonise the mindless universe, or at least the milky way! That will be the heritage of mankind, over the long run. It is actually a very important heritage. We should not forget that.

A very sophisticated, yet underrated form of art is extreme metal, and it is good that extreme metal gained some new impetus in recent years. While more initial bands like Morbid Angel, Meshuggah or Brutal Truth sounded as if they would come from another planet, newer bands like Abyssal, Mitochondrion or Portal sound as if the came from the very depths of outer space itself (from close to the region where Azathoth dwells). Sarpanitum, a band hitherto unkown to me, are also of this kind, and what is peculiar about them is that they combine some „Mesopotamian“ elements with their chaos and forlornness in space as you have it with bands like Melechesh or Nile. (Although the album Blessed Be My Brothers has a medieval setting) you feel as if you´re in an ancient temple or some kind of stucture, long abandoned, of an atavistic high culture, so ancestral that you could not even name it. So, as well as in outer space, you are forlorn in an unreal situation/setting which is however tangible as well as it refers to very ancient humanity, to something that once made sense although that sense is faded but could be (partially) reconstructed. You have sameness in otherness, and vice versa, and that somehow feels good and chilling (at least for me, for my boring fellow humans probably not). You´re inside the continuum of history and humanity as well as you´re in the vast, but also local universe. It gives a sense of place and belonging, but not an immediate one, as it also gives you a sense of seperatedness and unrealness. Those sacred ancient halls, erected by Sarpanitum! They´re sublime, but it is a kind of undefined sublimity or infra-sublimity or transcendent sublimity, as it is something to which you have profoundly lost connection. I mean, if you´re able to get immersed into things you can somehow reconstruct it, as allegedly primitive extreme metal musicians can. Be taught: (extreme) metal mainly is surrealistic exaggeration, it is abstract and it is erudite. The lyrics (about satan, etc.) are more attached to reality than the phony love songs you can hear on the radio. With Blessed Be My Brothers Sarpanitum probably had the death metal album of the year 2015. And I think I´m going to write the long promised Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal soon. It is good that I have already noticed some things about it, because to some degree I forgot what I wanted to say in that note hell yeah.

„When listening to the likes of “I Defy Therefore I Am” or “Thy Sermon Lies Forever Tarnished” the band’s blend of clinically chaotic but elegant almost cosmic riffage, and the historical imagery and themes makes me picture some sort of giant celestial knights clad in steam punk crusader garb usurping Sumerian thrones in far away galaxies. It’s not catchy or immediate, but presents an epic, swirling, nova of brutality and glistening beauty.“

Review of Blessed Be My Brothers by a guy named Lustmord56 at