Satori – Contemptus Mundi

01/09/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Satori
Title: Contemptus Mundi
Label: Cold Spring Records
Genre: Dark Ambient

Track Listing:

01 Contemptus Mundi
02 Contemptus Mundi (Nameless Wrath mix)

Satori’s vehement dislike for the modern world could not be more relevant for those of us living in the UK. A lot of the time people over this side of the Northern Hemisphere like to think of themselves as living in a superior country to the USA, but that’s certainly not the case as far as social freedoms are concerned. The censorship sway that the UK holds over its citizens is some of the most restrictive that there is. We have every moment of our lives monitored in the interests of “national security” and there is not one stone left unturned when it comes to the state’s ability to pry into the recesses of peoples’ personal lives. The more I think about this, the more paranoid I have become. I’ve even started to convince myself that my garbage is being sorted through by law enforcement agents and I’m being covertly stalked by all manner of faceless authorities. My cursor may be being followed in its trajectory across the screen at this very moment. It would hardly be a shock.

Not only is nearly every street in the UK festooned with the “secure, watchful eye” of CCTV, but as of this year the government has begun documenting every website visited by domestic citizens. Logs of each email received and sent are also kept – though we’re told the content isn’t monitored. This is exactly the kind of material that Satori’s Contemptus Mundi addresses: effectively a dark ambient sermon against the suffocatingly restrictive practises of the modern world, delivered through a collaboration with Magus Peter H Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan. The Church of Satan get a bad rap for seeming a ridiculous organisation of devil-worshippers, though they’ll tell you they’re anything but, and that the Church is based on atheism. They have taken ‘Satan’ as a representation of all forms of pleasure as well as the power of free thought and individual activism.

Contemptus Mundi consists of two tracks – the main title track which clocks in at 26 minutes, and a slightly shorter mix with no spoken vocals. Satori’s work on this album is very impressive, creating a lush, dark ambient background of distant chimes, drones and ghostly voices which underlay Gilmore’s words. Gilmore’s message is not delivered with a low, menacing growl as I was to expect from such an album but more an informative, affable tone, speaking of the smothering nature of censorship and the cowardice of the populous to break free from societal strictures. As much as I didn’t expect to find myself in acquiescence, Gilmore’s feelings that “mollycoddles abound” in the present day nanny state and “it has become a thought-crime to voice the opinion that you don’t embrace everyone in one sloppy hug of ‘brotherhood’” are rather similar to my own. His delivery is so straightforward, almost friendly in its tone, that Satori’s backing almost seems too dark in contrast.

Contemptus Mundi, meaning ‘contempt for the world’ isn’t necessarily one long complaint about the mundanity of modern existence offering no solutions. Gilmore suggests cultivating a “neo-Darwinian arena wherein opinions may clash in the bright glare of reason”, fostering the need for independent thought and action without governmental or religious bodies foisting sanctions onto us. Policing of laws is one thing, but policing of thoughts and opinions is quite another. Overall it’s an interesting and intriguing piece of work and at least if you don’t agree with Gilmore’s message, there’s another forty minutes of lavish dark ambience to get subdued in.

Ironically, in a time when censorship is supposed to abound in the UK more than ever, the British Board of Film Classification has upped its game considerably, waived cuts to a lot of old films and unbanned most of those that had been vaulted away for decades. Not only this, but many new horror films have found themselves released on these shores uncut whilst being slashed to ribbons by censors elsewhere. One of the most recent offerings to avoid the axe was Von Trier’s latest which, in spite of some particularity sadistic and gruesome scenes, left the cutting room with a floor free from stray celluloid. The film, Antichrist, got panned by the critics here who called for it to be banned, one even mentioning that it should be removed from cinemas in spite of the fact that he hadn’t seen it. At least expression of art seems to be freer than it once was here, and the aptly named Antichrist hopefully carries the standard for a new, more open-minded way of thinking as the authorities close other channels around us.

A couple of years ago I was advised of something on an internet image board, a tenet which has stuck with me ever since. “Always assume that everything you say and do is being recorded somewhere and can be used against you to your detriment”. This has always struck me as an unnerving and chilling idea, one which is particularly relevant to Gilmore’s notion of how frighteningly restrictive things have become. Though it may well be closer to the truth than I’d like presently to fathom, I’m not quite ready to be a Satanist just yet.

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