Reviews: Saved!, Frankenstein, Halloween Music

Saved! by the Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter
Madelyn Dawson

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the death of Lingua Ignota. All that was left of her was incinerated in a fiery convulsion on August 22, 2023, with the release of single, “All Of My Friends Are Going To Hell.” She is survived by Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter.

On October 23, 2023, singer, composer, performance artist, and multi-instrumentalist Kristin Hayter released her first album under her own name, stylized “Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter.” She previously released three LPs under the moniker “Lingua Ignota”: 2018’s All Bitches Die, 2019’s CALIGULA, and 2022’s SINNER GET READY. In 2023, she announced that she was retiring the Lingua Ignota name. “Revelations is upon us,” Hayter wrote in a social media statement. “Gentle friends, it is ok to let go. Thank you for sharing the dark with me, it is time to move forward.”

Lingua Ignota was a deeply experimental, onerously extremist project, steeped in the tradition of neoclassicism, but shaded by the grinding resonance of noise and industrial rock. Hayter described the music as “survivor anthems,” informed by her experience as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. Lingua Ignota was forged in darkness and by darkness. It had no way of escaping its own unceasing night.

And so emerged Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter, the cantor of her own diabolic hymns. Saved! is a record about salvation, but it doesn’t offer any solace. Part Pentecostal-Holiness Movement funeral hymn, part Appalachian folk vocalization, Hayer is able to wrangle both a heavenliness and a hellishness we don’t have the words to name. She recorded the album first on a 4-track tape recorder, then transposed the sounds through other degenerated tape recorders to further distort the fidelity.

On standout single “I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS,” Hayter sings with a desperation, one that rings through her trembling vibrato. Even as she breathes between lines, you can hear her hunger, her gasping for the air that will give her the strength to finish the song. “I know your name, take your teeth out of me,” she sings. “Return my body to me, release me.”

The album finds its own salvation on its eight-minute closer “HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING.” Unintelligible vocalizations writhe in the background as Hayter’s operatic rings out the lyrics to a traditional Quaker hymn, “Through all the tumult and the strife / I hear that music ringing / It finds an echo through my soul / How can I keep from singing?”

Maybe Saved! is the closest I can get to god, or maybe it’s drawing me to some other angel or demon. Either way, I follow Hayter’s voice like she is a seraph singing the hymns of whatever salvation she can muster.

Lingua Ignota is dead. Long Live Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter.

Motherhood, And Its Monsters
Connor Arakaki

On a dreary February night, I am reading under the long shadow of a bookshelf. The jazz from the saxophone player next door bleeds through the wall. The pillow in my lap acts as a makeshift desk, and resting quietly atop it is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Frankenstein tells the cautionary tale of Victor Frankenstein, his laboratory birth of a monster, and their downfall from mutual abandonment. Frankenstein critiques the “playing god” genre, dutifully cheapening masculine creator figures that are too often portrayed as heroic. Victor’s inability to take responsibility for his creation quickly makes him an unempathetic creator. He vilifies the monster only because of his appearance and casts him into exile in the forests of the Alps. As vengeance, the monster murders almost everyone Victor loves by the end of the novel—and it’s justified. 

Shelley transforms Victor from a near-divine creator into a fallible mortal, ignorant of motherhood’s realities. At first sight of his creation, Victor rushes out of his laboratory, claiming, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” The monster is left to reckon with his selfhood in solitude, observing the DeLacey family from afar, and reading neglected copies of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther. In a twist on the story of Narcissus, the monster looks into a mirrored pool. Realizing his ugliness, he laments: “I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.” What does a child have to ponder so despondently about? Shelley responds—alienation.

For Shelley, the critique of maternal abandonment is personal: her mother, the early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, died while giving birth to Shelley, and Shelley herself experienced multiple miscarriages. In a 2018 re-publishing of the 1818 text of Frankenstein, literary critic Charlotte Gordon introduces the novel, writing, “Like the creature, she felt abandoned by her creator and rejected by society. Like Frankenstein, she felt compelled to create. Her own birth had caused the death of her mother, but it had also brought life to her characters.” The monstrosities of motherhood are not substantiated by Frankenstein’s horror, but its author’s biography. 

A couple days ago, I reread an online version of the book on the Northeast Regional from D.C. to New Haven. At this time of year, the route is speckled with orange trees. I imagined the monster wandering in the woods, etching messages into bark for Victor to read someday. 

When I arrived home, I tried to find my annotated copy of Frankenstein in my dorm. Finally, I uncovered it in another cramped corner of my shelf. I picked up the book again, and was neither reminded of its monster nor its creator, but instead its author. There’s a new chill since I’ve been gone, and it’s deliciously haunting.

Getting Spooky on Spotify 
Emily Aikens

Halloween is upon us! Maybe you need more autumn-themed music to maintain your delusion that you are Rory Gilmore. Maybe you want to romanticize your walk down Hillhouse by listening to sad, indie women talk about being sad and indie. Maybe I’m projecting. The bottom line is that everyone needs new songs for their October playlist. Here are five!

“Witchcraft” by Graveyard Club

I do not know how I stumbled upon this song, but I am eternally grateful I did. When the ominous intro fades into the 1980s-esque synthetic beat, you immediately feel like you are in The Perks of Being a Wallflower tunnel scene. Bassist Amanda Zimmerman’s harmonizing is the song’s highlight, and her ethereal voice resembles a cross between Clairo and Stevie Nicks. 

“Cemetry Gates” by The Smiths

This is an ideal song to listen to while talking a long, melodramatic stroll through the Grove Street Cemetery. As Morrissey describes frolicking throughout the graveyard, he sings, “Keats and Yeats are on your side / While Wilde is on mine.” Despite the upbeat rhythm and sarcastic tone, this song encourages listeners to think about what death means, not only for themselves but for the literature that they engage with. You can choose to ruminate over or ignore the lyrics, depending on your tolerance for existential dread. 

“Ptolemaea” by Ethel Cain

Listen to this if you are trying to curate an eerie atmosphere. As a whole, this song’s album, Preacher’s Daughter, sounds like the soundtrack to a horror movie, but this song is particularly harrowing. Drawing inspiration from Dante’s Inferno, the title alludes to the ninth circle of hell, which houses traitors. From the distorted intro to the screeching bridge, this song will give you chills as it tells the fictional story of Ethel Cain’s kidnapping, emotional manipulation, and eventual death.  

“Maneater” by Nelly Furtado

Perfect for a Halloween movie night, this song complements any vampire-themed film. It is nearly impossible to not feel like Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body if you blast this song while getting ready for your Halloweekend plans. 

“Halloween” by Phoebe Bridgers 

And how could I exclude such an aptly titled track? The chorus of this song features the lines, “Baby, it’s Halloween / And we can be anything,” a haunting metaphor in which Bridgers compares interacting with her partner to dressing up for Halloween. In these lines, Bridgers comments on her relationship’s ephemerality, implying that it will pass, much like the day-long holiday.

Give it a listen! 

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