Review: Jute Gyte – «Diapason»

In a sense, the year started off slow. That’s not just because a January 1s hungover on quarantine feels weird, nor just because we were still spinning with that classic end of the year Dead Neanderthals «Cosmic Slime» piece. It started slow because we thought it was a good idea to dive into «Diapason», the latest Jute Gyte full-length.


It was a good idea, as well as a rough listen, as these things tend to be. To say something like that about one of his albums is tantamount to a tautology, but to say that it is tough listening in the specific context of his discography, that’s quite the statement. Released on January 2, «Diapason» consists of a single piece, lasting for two hours and twenty three minutes, not of black metal, but of ambient / drone. While this fits the same aesthetic as «Penetralia» and other ambient works in his past, that was a sequence of small pieces all lasting less than half an hour; therefore, not as relentlessly suffocating. Written between October 2019 and June 2020, the piece consists of a “five-voice mensuration canon at the fifth on the 24EDO series 0, 23, 14, 9, 4, 19, 18, 5, 8, 15, 22, 1, 12, 11, 2, 21, 16, 7, 6, 17, 20, 3, 10, 13.” To disentangle, the same melody is repeated by five different voices, and, if our understanding of the terminology is correct, those voices are separated by a (perfect or minor) fifth interval on the quarter-tone scale, which has been seen serialized at random as described. The use of quarter-tone scales has been a staple of Gyte for many years, with the fact that he wrote microtonal black metal in works such as «Discontinuities» being a good reason we were drawn to his music in the first place. In recent times, serialization has become a recurring theme in Gyte’s work, with 2019’s «Birefringence» mixing microtonal black metal with the compositional technique. That this tectonic movement of five voices is somehow less comfortable to listen than any of the aforementioned records is a testament to how precisely crafter it is and all the more reason to return to it, even if we’ll seldom do so free of apprehension.

Below, further revisit the aforementioned releases of «Discontinuities» (March 4, 2013); «Penetralia» (May 1, 2018); and «Birefringence» (July1, 2019). They are all available here, among a seemingly endless stream of amazing records by the North American composer.

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