Album of the Week: Schammasch

Have you danced with Ducasse? Done the Maldoror mambo? Lindy Hop’d with Lautréamont? Swiss avant-garde black metal band Schammasch are digging into Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror and The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite is the first release of a planned series.

Man Ray, L’énigme d’Isidore Ducasse

“Les Chants de Maldoror”, the book, was written in 1868/’69 by the Uruguayan-born French writer Isidore Lucien Ducasse, who chose to call himself Comte de Lautréamont. Of all the books I’ve read which have inspired dreams, two stand head and shoulders above the rest—Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror (comforting yet deadly shark dreams).  Maldoror was a major influence on the Fench Symbolists, Dadaists, and Surrealists so it’s no wonder that a number of artists took it upon themselves to illustrate or be inspired by this illustrious work. The book’s influence has also touched writers, musicians (like Schammasch and Nurse With Wound), film makers (like Godard and Kenneth Anger), poets, philosophers, and more.

It is not right that everyone should read the pages which follow; only a few will be able to savour this bitter fruit with impunity. Consequently, shrinking soul, turn on your heels and go back before penetrating further into such uncharted, perilous wastelands.”— Maldoror, Part I, Chapter 1

As if.

René MAGRITTE, Les chants de Maldoror (1948)

I came across The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite  during my 15,000th search on “Maldoror”,  a search that keeps on giving. It is highly probable that I would not have found it otherwise, which is one way Maldoror works after ingestion.

Salvador Dalí Les Chants de Maldoror (1934)

The album is dark, menacing and at times pounding with BPM intensity yet beautiful very much like its namesake and I find myself wandering its charred corridors, caverns and tunnels as if listening to a dream. Or dreaming of an album or being dreamed by it (wink).

Although according to certain philosophers it is quite difficult to distinguish the jester from the melancholic, life itself being a comic drama or a dramatic comedy.” ― Comte de Lautréamont

the Maldoror section of my library

As with books, I like to let the work do most of the talking so I recommend giving both Maldorors a try. You may just find yourself somewhere unexpected.

Les Chants de Maldoror. Gravures originales de Hans Bellmer. Genève: Grafik Europa Anstalt, 1971.

my portrait of Isidore