It’s not often I find new material in mid-December, usually this is the time of year I am reflecting on what the year had to offer and comparing year-end lists to see if there’s anything I missed. But Chelsea Wolfe came to my attention when Stereogum posted a article titled A Few Chelsea Wolfe Originals (And A Burzum Cover). I figured anyone named Chelsea who would cover the notorious, church burning, Norweigen black metal artist who has been convicted of murdering one of his “friends” by stabbing him in the head had to be something worth checking out. Even if it wasn’t good, it would be unique to say the least.
Curiosity made me click the link, but the music made me stay. The first artists that came to mind were Zola Jesus, Glasser, Grouper and others from that haunted camp of female performers that prefer to mask and sometimes hide their voice beneath layers of lo-fi, ambient noise. But after doing some more research I found her bandcamp page and downloaded Ἀποκάλυψις and that’s when the Burzum cover made sense. Take Chelsea‘s voice out of Pale on Pale and it wouldn’t sound out of place on an Agalloch album. The screams on Primal/Carnal could open a Watain album. Some of the lyrics could have been written by Tom Warrior. This girl has been heavily influenced by doom and black metal. Zola Jesus might be the first artist to come to mind, but this is much darker stuff.
A quick Google search on Chelsea Wolfe will turn up quite a few results. She’s got the aforementioned bandcamp page where she sells Ἀποκάλυψις. She has a MySpace page with a few songs and tour dates (looks like she’s going to France) and saying only “*” about herself. Chelseawolfe.net has her e-mail address, but lacks much of anything else except for a link to the APOCALYPSE. She posts links to articles about herself on her blogspot, but nothing personal. Facebook gives the most information, after DOOM, you learn that she is from California, currently lives in L.A. and describes her music as goth-folk experimental stuff//spiritual realm funeral songs//Estonian industrial. 785 people Like her. But my personal favorite is her last.fm page where her bio is short, but not so sweet…Chelsea Wolfe is a ghost and the ghost only has 719 listeners. I’m pretty sure that will change in the near future.
Site after site, youtube videos and professional photo shoots…Chelsea Wolfe‘s art has an internet presence, even though Chelsea Wolfe as a person has none. All I can tell is that she is from California, most likely Sacramento, and now lives in L.A. She creates dark, ambient spaces to pour her voice into and when it all escapes into the atmosphere, it bridges the gap between modern lo-fi, psychedelic folk/pop and black metal. Darkwave is the term that was thrown around the most for Zola Jesus, but I think a new subgenre will be born of Chelsea‘s work …something like doomscape or blackwave.
This post wouldn’t be complete without talking about Chelsea‘s label, Pendu Sound Recordings. As enigmatic as the artist herself, Pendu NYC is a non-profit art and cultures organization ran by artist Todd Brooks. Based in Brooklyn, Pendu NYC is an art gallery, online magazine, record label and cult. Yes, a cult. Plastered with symbolism and quotes from the Zodiac, Alchemy, Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley along with hundreds of others and Saints listed as Judas Iscariot, Michael Hutchence, David Carradine and David Foster Wallace, you can see how Chelsea found a home here along with porn-star, actress and artist Sasha Grey and her project aTelecine. “only bohemians, musicians, artists, atheists, anarchists, communists, and Satanists need apply.”
Take a listen below and if you like what you hear, preorder the (Limited 500 Edition LP) The Grime And The Glow now at Pendu Sound and if you are in San Francisco, catch her opening set for How To Dress Well at Cafe du Nord during Noise Pop 2011.