Any attempt to categorise the work of LINGUA IGNOTA is an exercise in futility. An alias for Californian musician Kristin Hayter, it covers an overwhelmingly broad spectrum of musical styles. It incorporates baroque, noise, metal, liturgical Medieval; in short, an astonishing, almost comical level of variety. Hayter herself has tremendous versatility as a performer; her voice switching between whisper and roar at a moment's notice. But every deployment of style, every pastiche, is controlled and considered. CALIGULA is more tapestry than patchwork.
This album is more easily assessed with some context. Early in her career, Hayter migrated from California to Rhode Island, ingratiating herself with members of the island's active noise scene. It was in this scene that she suffered domestic abuse from a 'very powerful noise musician'.
Noise and power electronics are oversaturated with the contemporary equivalent of shock-rock; men who use the language of abuse to provide audiences with a visceral thrill. Many bands do little more than describe a violent, often sexually motivated attack, and punctuate it with stabs of harsh noise. CALIGULA exposes this mode of expression as dull and irresponsible — and the scene which bore it as toxic.
Hayter's lyrics are vengeful, apocalyptic, and delivered with unbearable emotion. She is possessed by her own trauma, her own rage. Noise leans very often on disgust, but there is a sort of horrific triumph to CALIGULA; like the vanguard of angels with their seven trumpets. It’s a refreshing, rare approach. LINGUA IGNOTA is shaking the muck loose from her scene. She’s invigorating it, revolutionising it, and melting everyone's ears in the process.
CALIGULA is available to purchase and stream here.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe