Lingua Ignota's 'Sinner Get Ready' Is More Incantation Than Collection of Songs

BY Daniel SylvesterPublished Aug 5, 2021

There's absolutely nothing reductive in comparing the music of Kristin Hayter (a.k.a. Lingua Ignota) to other artists. In fact, the artist completed an esteemed academic career by channeling her own experiences through figures from Johann Sebastian Bach to Andrey Markov. That's why it makes sense to use musicians like Diamanda Galás, Jarboe and Lydia Lunch to explain how Lingua Ignota delivers such vulnerable art in such brutal ways.

Lingua Ignota is willing to share the aforementioned women's methods of expressing real-life trauma though repossessing representative imagery that is often connected to victimhood, as on her breakthrough 2019 album, Caligula. Her fourth LP, Sinner Get Ready, doesn't just explore her own Christian upbringing, but also the mass privilege it is capable of spreading amongst its followers, specifically within her current community in rural Pennsylvania. But, as shown by tracks like the lyrically dramaturgical "I Who Bend the Tall Grasses" and the intimate, prayer-sampling "The Sacred Linament of Judgment," Lingua Ignota's classically trained craft actually isn't as effective when the listener attempts to dissect her tactile devices, but seems more emotional affecting when all pretenses are abandoned and forgotten.

Throughout nine compositions, Lingua Ignota frames her treated piano with altar bells, field recordings, chants, orchestral strings and a controlled operatic vocal style to channel a wild range of moods. But there's nothing mercurial about her fourth LP, as the gloomy and delicate "Pennsylvania Furnace" (which describes a man being dragged to Hell by his dogs) and the exceptionally dark and weeping "Perpetual Flame of Centralia" make Lingua Ignota seem more like a witness to the described exploitation than a fatality.

On tracks like the nine-minute opener "The Order of Spiritual Virgins" and the organ dirge "Many Hands," Lingua Ignota works off of spatial patience, as Hayter expertly builds tension throughout their sonic ebbs and flows. This leads to an incredibly exploratory hour of music, despite the gloomy mood she creates throughout, best demonstrated by the banjo-assisted "Repent Now Confess Now" and the almost-melodic closer "The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata."

As Hayter entered her career in music as a trained music and art scholar, she ensures the lyrics that haunt her latest release are as nightmare-inducing as her music. Her description of religious iconography, filled with the blood of Jesus and torture at the hands of those who judge, are as horrifying as the most depraved doom metal lyrics. Sinner Get Ready is nothing short of a strikingly effective album, sounding more like an incantation than a mere collection of songs.
(Sargent House)

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