Eclipse Review: Rozz Williams - The Whorse’s Mouth (1996)


artist: Rozz Wil­li­ams
release: The Whorse’s Mouth
format: CD
year of release: 1996
label: Hol­lows Hill Sound Record­ings
dur­a­tion: 60:24

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

If there is one album that sat­is­fies the cri­teria of dark and exper­i­mental, it has to be death­rock legend Rozz Wil­li­ams’ (1963−1998) The Whorse’s Mouth. An album - and a pro­ject - that never got the atten­tion it deserves, in my opin­ion. Usu­ally, most atten­tion goes to (goth/death)rock pro­jects like Chris­tian Death and Shadow Pro­ject. Maybe this is one of the reas­ons why this album appears to be for­got­ten: The Whorse’s Mouth con­tains all sorts of influ­ences and sounds, but cer­tainly no run-of-the-mill death­rock or gothrock. I can’t think of a bet­ter defin­i­tion for this album than the afore­men­tioned dark and exper­i­mental; the album wavers between dirty indus­trial and noise-like tracks like “Raped” and “Best of the Breed” and breath­tak­ingly beau­ti­ful, but also very mel­an­cholic tracks borne by piano, vari­ous clas­sical instru­ments and sound effects like “A Fire of Uncom­mon Velo­city” and “Dec. 30, 1334”. It’s cer­tainly one of the more ori­ginal albums in my col­lec­tion; extremely var­ied, with well-composed songs.

Although the name of the pro­ject sug­gests oth­er­wise, the tracks and lyr­ics on The Whorse’s Mouth are not writ­ten by Rozz Wil­li­ams alone, but also by the vari­ous musi­cians who col­lab­or­ated on the pro­ject: Erik Christides, Ryan Gaumer, Paris, en Erik Free­man. Addi­tion­ally, Chris­tian Omar Mad­rigal Izzo plays drums on “Best of the Breed” and “Who’s in Charge Here”, and Anne Marie plays the beau­ti­ful violin parts on “A Fire of Uncom­mon Velo­city”. All in all a quite intim­ate col­lab­or­a­tion, and not a real solo pro­ject.
On all tracks we hear Rozz recit­ing the lyr­ics with his char­ac­ter­istic soft voice. These lyr­ics are very ori­ginal and remind me of a strange mix between mod­ern poetry and apo­ca­lyptic vis­ions. The lyr­ics are com­posed poet­ic­ally, and mean­ing, rhythm, word asso­ci­ation and all kinds of rhyme and meta­phors blend into each other. This is best illus­trated by a short example:

(from “Best of the Breed”)
I would enjoy hanging you more than stay­ing in this circle of love and danger
a mur­der­ous plot played out in vague extremes
Stick those poin­ted prongs strong
Pierce any heart that might annoy you
No sac­ra­mental goat pro­trudes in blind
with draw all - kill it now or for­give the
holy gown cow stun pun, doesn’t it all run in vein?

The art­work fits this kind of lyr­ics per­fectly: estranging col­lages with many kinds of ref­er­ences, made by Wil­li­ams and Christides. The music itself also forms a rich col­lage of sounds and atmo­spheres. The album starts with “Tempta­tion”, a track with a subtle mid-tempo rhythm en vari­ous sound effects, and in the fore­ground Rozz, of course, who recites a piece of The Lord’s Prayer, among other things. I think “Raped” is the most con­spicu­ous track on the album. Through the com­bin­a­tion of a happy TV tune and a dis­turb­ing sample, it becomes a musical expres­sion of one of Rozz’s col­lages, which also often con­tain ele­ments from pop­ular cul­ture com­bined with unset­tling images and mes­sages. The most beau­ti­ful track on the album, and one of the most beau­ti­ful I know in gen­eral, is “A Fire of Uncom­mon Velo­city”. It is the first track on The Whorse’s Mouth in this style: a haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful piano melody, accom­pan­ied by atmo­spheric violin and strong lyr­ics. Per­fect for cold win­ter nights by candle­light. “HER Only sIN” is also remark­able. A relaxed rhythm and bass melody, recur­ring sound effects and piano accents that struc­tur­ise the track, and lyr­ics that seem to relate the down­fall that accom­pan­ies heroin addic­tion. “A Brother of Low Degree” has the same relaxed sound. “Dear Skin” starts off beau­ti­fully with piano and violin, chan­ging halfway into calm, repeat­ing effects. The lyr­ics them­selves, by the way, are often rather crude and raw, and it could just hap­pen that you’re listen­ing to a serene melody with Rozz going on about “con­des­cend­ing fuck­holes” at the same time. The last fine, but very sad piano song is “Dec. 30, 1334”, with some more great piano lines, this time accom­pan­ied by rather prom­in­ent bass. The lyr­ics are a good­bye to and sad recol­lec­tion of life. The album closes with the heavy, noise-like “Best of the Breed”, a track with a lot of dis­tor­tion and a repeat­ing high beep which again shows the diversity of this pro­ject.

The lyr­ics and dark atmo­sphere bind all tracks together and cre­ate a unique mood. I for one don’t know any other albums like it by other artists. Closest is per­haps some­thing like Nico, but mostly because that is also dark and unique music. The Whorse’s Mouth is a deep album on which many dis­cov­er­ies can be made - it cer­tainly deserves to be more well known!

Reviewed by D.M.K.

Track­list:

1. Tempta­tion (5:35)
2. Life is but a Dream (5:01)
3. Raped (4:38)
4. Who’s in Charge Here? (Beneath the Tri­umph of Shad­ows) (3:56)
5. A Fire of Uncom­mon Velo­city (5:47)
6. HER Only sIN (4:58)
7. Inter­lude (2:02)
8. A Brother of Low Degree (6:06)
9. Dear Skin (4:58)
10. Mag­got Drain (3:56)
11. Dec. 30, 1334 (8:58)
12. Best of the Breed (4:29)