Even though I haven’t been working with them for very long, I’ve already figured one thing out about Xenoglossy Productions: anything they send my way is going to send me down a rabbit hole. Exhibits A + B: the two pieces I did on the recent Perpetuum Mobile EP, Paradoxa Emblemata, which I’m fairly certain are the most exhaustively researched pieces I’ve done here at IMV. And now I’l like to introduce into evidence Exhibit C: Cossyra, from improvisational raw black metal duo Gelkhammar.
A quick bit of housekeeping here first: Cossyra technically isn’t being released by Xenoglossy. Cassettes are being handled by Cossyra Tapes, a sub-label of Xenoglossy Productions, and digitally by both Cossyra and Ancestral Rites. So far, so good…but here’s where the rabbit hole comes in: Cossyra Tapes is dedicated to releasing music by people from the island of Pantelleria.
Nope – I’m not familiar with it, either. And off we go…
Pantelleria, formerly known as Cossyra, is an island between Sicily and Tunisia in the Mediterranean Sea. First settled by the Iberians, it fell into the possession of the Carthaginians around the 7th century BCE. From there it’s been occupied by Romans, Arabs, the Aragonese, the Turks, and eventually the Italians, where it was occupied by the Allies during WWII and used as a base from which to attack Sicily. As one might imagine, it’s linguistic history is just as varied, going from a Siculo-Arabic dialect to Romance Sicillian, though many loanwords from Arabic are used on the island, and there are Semetic origins to most of the place names.
Gelkhammar draw their inspiration from this rich cultural and historical tapestry. The band’s name comes from Monte Gelkhammar, a volcano that played a major role in the island’s geological history roughly 22,000 years ago. “Sesi”refers to the large stone funerary buildings on the island that were left by the Sesitoa people the second century BC. “Mursia” is both a species of crab and the name of a contrada, or city subdivision, on Pantelleria, and “Dammusi” is the name of the traditional lava stone-constructed houses on the island.
History and vocabulary lessons aside, what does their music sound like? If you’ve recently gotten caught up in the hype surrounding Pandiscordain Necrogenesis, you probably have a certain sound in mind, but that sort of chaotic, avant-garde approach (thankfully) isn’t what you’re going to find on Cossyra. Instead, it might be easiest to say that their sound falls somewhere between the Portuguese and the Vampyric. Their brand of back metal is raw, mostly in the mid-to-upper mid tempo range, and the riffs seem to focus more on mood than intensity or speed. And at six songs in just under 30 minutes, Cossyra is in no danger of overstaying its welcome – in fact, I could have easily handled at least one more track.
Cossyra is now available on cassette via Cossyra Tapes/Xenoglossy Productions (order here), and as a ‘Name Your Price’ download from both Cossyra/Xenoglossy and Ancestral Rites (order here). Give it a listen below, and don’t hesitate too long before grabbing one of the cassettes – they’re extremely limited, they look fantastic, and they likely won’t be around for long.