Historically, the lingua ignota or ‘unknown language’ was a secret language constructed in the twelfth century by the German mystic, Saint Hildegard of Bingen with its own alphabet and newly invented Latin-like words. Lingua Ignota is also the musical vessel of one Kristin Hayter, through which she channels her own stories of domestic violence. These ‘survivor anthems’ are intimate, extremely expressive accounts that defy genre categorization.
An unspoken language as it were, to speak of the unspeakable. Hayter is a classically schooled pianist and singer, yet her own compositions attempt to deconstruct all generally accepted notions about music.
Like Diamanda Galas, her vocals recognize no boundaries and will go from intimate confessions and dramatic declamations to liturgical singing or maniacal rants that border on true Norwegian black metallish screams. Her first recordings as Lingua Ignota came from her own Master of Fine Arts thesis, subtly monikered ‘Burn Everything Trust No One Kill Yourself’ upon which her 2017 debut ‘Let the Evil From His Own Lips Cover Him’ was partly based. This was quickly followed up with ‘All Bitches Die’ and triggered the attention of Profound Lore Records. They officially re-released the album and provided the platform for her third record, the just recently issued ‘Caligula’.
The connection to Hildegard in reference to Hayter continues to fascinate. For one, both women successfully composed music. In fact, her ‘Ordo Virtutum’ is one the oldest surviving Medieval morality plays and her entire body of work is the largest known repertoire from that era.
Maybe even more importantly, both have been outspoken voices for women’s struggle for independence, within their own historical frameworks of course. In the patriarchal society that was medieval Christian Europe, her “God-given divine inspiration” uniquely allowed her to voice views that would otherwise have remained silenced or been simply ignored.
Hayter’s performance has something of a possession also. With her singing varying from demonic ravings to lamenting cries and everything in between, you might really believe that several personas inhabit her body depending on its place in the song. On stage this is accentuated even more with her seemingly uncontrolled movements, sometimes to the point of bruising herself.
‘Caligula’ is an exorcism of one of her former abusive, violent relationships. Her survivor stories, and in particular the way they are articulated, take the center stage at all times. A simple piano melody or a massive reverberating drone are the sole instrumentation, a way for her to open up a conduit through which these testimonials can pour out.
Release date: July 19 2019
Label: Profound Lore Records
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- So you Doubt Me a Traitor
- Butcher of the World
- May Failure Be Your Noose
- Fragrant is My Many Flower’d Crown
- If the Poison won’t Take You My Dogs Will
- Day of Tears and Mourning
- Sorrow! Sorrow! Sorrow!
- Spite Alone Holds Me Aloft
- Fucking Deathdealer
- I Am the Beast