Following in the wake of his debut novel THE GREAT IMMUREMENT, which we serialised during the summer of 2020, Vukovar helmsman Rick ACV now follows up with the surreal, esoteric and challenging Astral Deaths & Astral Lights. Playing with format, language, font, with half-thoughts of waking hours and occult merge with dream-realism and a languid sense of discomfort: a sorry state of existence. William Blake and Austin Osman Spare meet Kōbō Abe in the hotel lobby portal of the never-world: personal and universal. Parts One & Two were debuted during August, followed up by Part Three. We continue with the next chapters, EVERYONE IS ENDED and IV below:

EVERYONE IS ENDED

“Now I live in a ghost world, enclosed in my dreams and imaginings.”

Images flash by.

A hidden backstory to be deciphered, hands reaching out to grasp at them and to them and put them all-together. 

There are 3 things, 3 beings and they attempt a film … but there must be death, Real-Death. Even though the world that has created these people… the person or people in that world… there has been Real-Death there.

And so in this imaginary world with these 3 imaginary filmmakers, their imaginary friend, as a result, is now a Dead-Friend and their only purpose in life cannot be completed.

They exist in a limbo far crueller than their eternal recurrence. 

Images become clearer. 

They were written into a script, that’s their existence. When the film opens, theirs and every other character’s in that script’s life begins. The film finishes, the credits roll; Everyone Is Ended.

And it begins again. But this now can’t happen.

IMAGES COME YET CLEARER.

They stop flashing and moving.

.

……..

..

…………………………………

.

I am frozen by a cerement of despair; the morosity and monstrosity is shared by all three of us, but not Charon, who awaits us further on. His flashing eyes gleam through the mid-winter, mid-morning, mid-mourning fog, directing us towards him. 

We know this scene, Grey, Nancy and I, but it feels as though Something Has Changed. Our collective De Ja Vu is not as nauseating, our futile existence not as repetitive. 

We walk silently side by side, exchanging solemn but reassuring looks now and again in place of the usual vindictive and often tedious words that blight our many conversations, funny as they may be to those who Witness Us. 

It feels as though we have wrestled back control from our Creators, from our destiny, from our all encompassing Purpose.

In reality, we have simply been forgotten about and left forever to wander and wonder.

The fog moves quickly and we can barely make out the lake, the perimeter of which our path naturally follows, and, so too we are blinded to the woodland that surround and are usually so beautiful and full of life. This is a cold, dark day.

Limnal hymns haunt our every movement and direction. 

The hard, coarse stones underfoot that form the ever-widening beach – itself an estuary to a barren Stone-Sea, which is our destination – occasionally pierce our feet; the pain is a mild self-flagellation to punctuate our silent affirmations that this is the Truest Of Choices.

We move towards Charon and Place To Rest.

Place To Rest for our Dead-Friend whom Nancy carries in an old, battered tin. She has to be strong as the ashes have been fighting to emerge for an eternity now.

Place To Rest for all of us.

As we come ever closer to Charon, we take formation; Nancy a couple of paces ahead with myself and Grey flanking. Nancy holds the tin with outstretched arms to warn Charon that this time…

…this time it is different.

I recall from the usual world, and then imbibe all of us in this one, of a passage:

‘Noone will suffer. I’ll save them all.’

Creators now become Cremators.

The daylight as strong as the potent meph these grievers snort whilst the salvaged and salvated body drifts through the air into the Chapel Of Ash.

There are many people but people-as-props for this – our – final attestment to thy testament.

Surrounded by voices. Surrounded by seers. Surrounded by voices.

The smoke into the atmosphere as the only real thing. Even though we must craft in clay, we first dream in smoke. The smoke envelops this whole Immortal Hour, this whole celebration, this whole play; A play that the cremated’s smoke itself has written and is now directing. 

The smoke is the metaphysical embodiment, entombing us, immuring us within The Great Immurement, to be held within until the crafting begins and the clay can take its place. The ashes are a physical monument, but nothing more. 

Besides, there are no differences between ashes.”

Our version and vision of Charon is a crazed old man, deranged and unhinged, seething with malevolent playfulness. But not today.

Today, he still rows his little wooden boat, gnarled with eternal age, but immune to external damage, and it is upon the wide expanse of stone and pebble on the water’s edge that he rows.

We climb aboard, our Dead-Friend and ourselves and we sit, together.

All is quiet; the liminal hymns are at one with the atmosphere.

We huddle.

The sun sets.

Soon we will all die and this time, never live again. 

Everything fades.

Everyone Is Ended.

IV

There is often fear of ‘The Bed’. The fear is growing of ‘The Bed’.

I’m not there. I can’t go there. Is the partner on it? Trying to coax me to ‘The Bed’, as though it’s some normal thing, some normal place to go to at the end of the day?

There is no security, not even a false sense. ‘The Bed’ should be avoided at all costs. There is no rest there. 

How can it be sleep and rest when all I do is see through other waking eyes, in other waking worlds?

Another note from Another Place:

“As we get older and more time has passed, we become attached to the ideals of people rather than the people themselves, as we understand that they cannot fulfil what we require of them, and learn how to find fulfilment, instead, within ourselves. Then we become more detached to those things that mean nothing, turning instead to nothingness, the things and places that lie beyond the Veil.

These things and places are not wondrous. It is a crushing vastness that is impossible to navigate but exciting to explore, and, in return, to be explored by.

When the crushing vastness decides we can neither offer nor fake any more of ourselves, our life is taken from us and given to something new.

This is not our decision.”

One more here in fact… this by another’s hand… all battered and bruised… blood drips…

“I am scared to death

Scared to death of death;

to unexist after all i’ve lived learned loved … the thought of this

is a source of great depression

of cut hands

of night falls fast

PLEASE GOD

XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX     MY GREATEST WISH IS TO 

NOW LIVE EVERYONE IN EVERYTIME EVERYWHEN AND EVERYWHERE 

until unexistence is escaped and I may always 

be.

Just to be, forever, is all I want.

STEPS HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE.”

Did I write this?

Please, God.

Album Review: Dominic Valvona




Vukovar/Michael Cashmore ‘Monument’ 16th November 2018

Another month, another three-syllable entitled grandly Gothic statement from Vukovar; on this occasion traversing the void with Current 93 stalwart and producer/composer Michael Cashmore, who appears under the guises of his Nature And Organization nom de plume.

A congruous in what is a melancholy harrowing romance partnership with the morbidly curious Vukovar, Cashmore leads with a vaporous, industrial and often godly (whichever God/Gods they be) brutalist swathe of sagacious moodiness and narration; adding to the already despairing lament that is Vukovar’s signature.

Deadly committed to the point of alienating everyone they work with, Vukovar’s fraught collaborations may end in acrimony, but the results musically are always first rate and dramatic; this latest breaking-of-bread partnership proving to be among their best work so far. It’s impossible to tell where Cashmore ends and Vukovar begin, and vice versa, and who’s album this actually is. Arguably inheritors of Current 93 and, even more so, Coil’s gnostic-theological mysticism and brooding venerable communions, Cashmore seems the obvious foil. Current’s The Innermost Light and Coil’s (and John Balance’s swan song as it were) The Ape Of Naples both permeate this conceptual opus.

As ever, reflecting the band’s reading material, monument is fueled by Hermetic occultists, despondent followers of Thelma, Dante’s visions of purgatory and redemption, and, to a point, architectural analogy. Inhabiting the concrete musically and materially, twisting post-punk, Kosmische, industrial and early British synth-pop, Vukovar and their partner in this gloomy trudge through the wastelands produce an apocalyptic hymn of gauze-y supernatural resignation and dreamy visages.

Straddling two slabs of vinyl, Monument’s indulgences are given ample room to haunt the listener. Shorter narrations and passages fade into more fully realized songs. Shorter pieces like the ‘This Brutal World’ feature a reading of a most despondent, mopey even, extract from Alice In Wonderland (the sad Walrus’ ‘sweeping away’ metaphor sounding even more plaintive read out in this setting) and fairytale surrealist, erring towards the unsettling, twinkled xylophone, followed by more expanded visions of yearning dark arts. When the band and their host do emerge from the ether, the Gothic experimentation features a more melodious, dare I even suggest catchy, quality; even in its most stark sleepless eulogy form, with a chorus like, “In a dream she’s always dying/One day she may awake”, taken from the Bauhaus swirling cathedral indie ‘Little Gods’, there is a certain surge of broody dynamism and anthem.

Vocally for the most part, both the voices of Vukovar and Cashmore’s dulcet, lower tones are layered over each other; some sung, though mostly spoken, uttered, howled and cried-out. On the middle section of the ‘Visions In Silence’ cycle (following the edict entitled nod to Rosicrucian championing physic and occult icon, Robert Fludd, ‘Utrique Cosmi Et Sic In Infinitum’) the “exist as I exist” mantra and ruinous decaying lyrical morose could be by Alan Moore, and the off-kilter jerking march of the no-wave ‘The Duty Of Mothers’ sounds like an unholy alliance between John Betjeman and Aleister Crowley.

From haunting melodrama to harrowing decay, unrequited love to radiant escape, the loss of innocence and youth to sagacious death rattles, Vukovar prove ideal torchbearers of the cerebral Gothic sound and melancholic romanticism. A meeting of cross-generational minds with both partners on this esoteric immersive experience fulfilling their commitments, Monument shows a real progression for Vukovar, and proves a perfect vehicle for Cashmore’s uncompromising but afflatus ideas to flourish in new settings, whilst confirming his reputation and status. Whatever happens next, this ambitious work will prove a most fruitful and lasting highlight in the Vukovar cannon; one that’s growing rapidly, six albums in with a seventh already recorded; another ‘momentous’ statement that affirms the band’s reputation as one of the UK’s most important new bands.

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