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Monday, 7 October 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Lingua Ignota (Live Review By Lee Burgess)

Lingua Ignota, Rough Trade, Bristol

When talking about a gig headlined by Lingua Ignota (real name Kristin Hayter), it’s worth noting that we will be talking about some rough stuff owing to the subject matter held within the blackened incantations of this incredibly talented maker of noise and pain. Her latest album entitled Caligula has attracted massive attention in the world of extreme music. Be warned, nothing here is for the faint of heart…

This was always going to be special, if a little nerve shredding. Rough Trade in Bristol is a record shop by day and by night, well this night, it became a vessel for the lost and the troubled. We pack into the tiniest of rooms and so begins the eerie performance-art and thumping, pulsating electro ambience of the two support acts, notable mostly for the fact that nobody seems to know who the hell they are. There are titters and whispers from the audience and some names are floated, but the sense of mystery only seems to heighten the already thick, dark experience. People here don’t give a shit. It’s the main act we are all waiting for, and the support just seems to be there to serve one purpose, to bring us all to a point of desolation from which nobody is spared. Screams, beats, bass, matches, lights and crunching electronic harshness are all in the mix. Perhaps this is a warning of what’s to come. It certainly feels that way. No intros, no audience participation, no fist pumping, just weird, loud, bewitching sound.

Remember I said about the rough stuff? Well here we go…

I think it’s fair to say that Kristin Hayter has been through the wringer. Abuse and all that comes in its wake are laid bare. But it’s clear she never intends to play the victim. From the very start it’s obvious that this is going to be an ordeal. This lady has things to say, and you will fucking listen, OK? A stage hidden by plastic sheeting, a keyboard nestled in plastic, wires, chords and chaos. This is of course done for effect, that of no escape. What you wouldn’t normally expect from a one-woman show is to be confronted by the kind of seething, forever bubbling anger that underpins all of Lingua Ignota’s beautifully ugly music. Whether she’s singing with an impossibly complex vocal range, screaming with unfathomable bitterness or dancing as a shadow behind the tattered screen, these journeys into bleakness tell of great pain, abuse, revenge, hate, brutality and death. There is also the very real vision of sexual violence and the frequently repeated questions "Who will love you if I don’t? Who will fuck you when if I won’t?" This being the chorus to May Failure Be Your Noose.

At various points during this almost demonic experience, I witness people crying, openly shedding tears as words of self-loathing and spell-like witchery overcome them. There really is nowhere to go, no room to breathe. I find myself with breath clenched in my chest as Hayter saps the energy of each member of the crowd. What would normally be a furious pit turns into an experience more akin to the most harrowing of funerals. By the end, this spent woman is ready to vanish beneath her plastic hiding place, while we linger in silence, having been swept into a sea of misery and drowned by a gigantic industrial body of metal noise. Was this pleasant and uplifting? Not at all. What it was, in all honesty was nothing short of life affirming, even majestic. 10/10


  1. Highly original and very important artist.Nobody has ever shown me what hell sounds like in such a believable way before

  2. Highly original and frankly an absolutely startling show.No one as ever shown me through music what hell sounds like before.