If you get the sense that we bring up Jute Gyte a lot in our metal coverage, it’s only because we’re given a lot to talk about. The working name for Missourian composer Adam Kalmbach, Jute Gyte has produced at least one full-length album per year, every year since Kalmbach started using the moniker as a teenager in 2006. In the past two years alone, he’s produced three outstanding black metal albums that we’ve touched on; you may remember last year’s Ship Of Theseus appearing high in our Best Metal Albums feature.
As impressive as this prodigious pace is, it’s neither unprecedented in metal nor the most interesting thing about the project. Kalmbach is known by most fans for his metal output, and then primarily for his penchant for employing microtones in a black metal context. But reducing him to “the microtonal black metal guy” also buries the lede. The really impressive part of the immense Jute Gyte discography is its breadth, not its depth. Kalmbach is not strictly a metal composer; much of his discography consists of various experimental iterations of harsh noise, electronica, and ambient music. Jute Gyte has largely pursued these styles independently, on separate albums, with only philosophically minded bleakness and a relentless urge to subvert conventional form tying it all together. (The project’s Bandcamp page features all of his work at pay-what-you-will prices; many of the album pages feature process and compositional notes from Kalmbach, making it one of the more rewarding Bandcamps I’ve ever come across.)
On Perdurance, Jute Gyte’s first release of 2016, these threads converge to incredible effect. Not since the project’s earliest days has Kalmbach deployed so many of his compositional and tonal tools at once, and his work has certainly come a long way since. While the bulk of the material consists of the looking-glass black metal that has become Jute Gyte’s public calling card, the painful metallic grind now falls away in mid-song regularly, creating fissures that glitchy textures seethe up to fill. These elements sometimes overlap, creating truly alien sonic spaces — the mottled void of “Like The Woodcutter Sawing His Hands”; the skittering ear-itch of “Palimpsest.” There’s a lot to unpack here, and I’ve barely begun to do so. It’s best to experience this album’s surprises afresh for yourself anyway; those who prefer orderliness and predictability will find little to love here.
Music with this many complex moving parts rarely evoke as much real emotion as Jute Gyte can. Though the project is self-consciously academic in many respects, its truly special feature is its ability to transcend its own thoughtfulness and hit you in the gut. Of course, the emotions involved are not ones most people will register as pleasurable. The experience of listening to Jute Gyte’s best work is a sort of auditory-cortex motion sickness, a sense of plunging through space in a direction that your brain can’t quite identify. Most will find this experience nauseating; a few will find that it jibes powerfully — even enjoyably — with the sense of hopeless dislocation associated with simply trying to make your way through a meaningless and hostile world every day.
Jute Gyte’s is a tough and mostly thankless artistic course to pursue, but it is an important one nonetheless. Its referents may be painful, but grappling with them is a vital part of keeping your sanity intact. Kalmbach has dedicated his life to this monkish struggle, working part-time and devoting the rest of his energies to a hermetic musical practice. (He quips in this interview that “To the average person, making metal music is a practice on par with model trains or stamp collecting.”)
As listeners, we see little of most musicians who work in this private manner; they produce work infrequently and vanish back into the shadows. Jute Gyte, by contrast, has grown in public. You can hear Kalmbach’s voice develop over the span of his many albums, tempering his innate talents with experience and proficiency. On Perdurance, he speaks with the full resonance of hard-won creative maturity. You may find what he’s saying hard to take, but you need to hear it nonetheless. Listen (via Noisey).
Perdurance will be out 6/6 via Jute Gyte’s Bandcamp.