The world of Dendera Bloodbath is compact and claustrophobic. Her industrial soundscapes close in on the listener with stark clarity, yet the erratic pulses induce curiosity, like a Discovery Channel program from an alien world. Every extraterrestrial melody from her new EP, Xaoate, unlocks another mystery of the night.
To anyone familiar with Virginia Bliss, the artist behind the Dendera Bloodbath stage presence, this ambitious release is no surprise. Bliss has a knack for experimental theatrics, an endless supply of creative energy, and the ability to use a power drill as more than a stage prop. In addition, the songwriter/producer is the head of the Clandestine Ritual record label.
Xaoate is a shift away from the gothic darkwave of Bliss’ previous record, Queen of the Cauldron Born, towards noise-infused ambience. The pop undertones and traditional song structures are now buried deep beneath the commotion. This doesn’t mean Xaoate is any less complicated than Dendera Bloodbath’s previous work. This EP is both a strong step forward and a look back to the layered beats of her first record, wr wr wr [ankh]. Most notably, the lyrics have been replaced by eerie synth notes which lie dark and heavy on the tracks like grimy odes to ’80s horror scores. Unsurprisingly, Bliss named Moog pioneer Wendy Carlos as one of the main influences on the EP, but she also drew inspiration from Leapt by Radio People. At its most noisy, Xaoate may draw comparisons to Pharmakon’s Abandon, but where Pharmakon is tragic and violent, Dendera Bloodbath is darkly playful.
Over email, Bliss explained the album as a chaos magick charm in which the song titles indicate the intention behind each piece. Each of the five tracks — “Health,” “Legacy,” “Soulmate,” “Triumph,” and “Riches” — were written so that both Bliss and the listener might acquire each particular attribute. The intention behind the record isn’t simply some press release factoid, but rather changes the listening experience and the perception of the album’s structure. In this new lens, the songs morph from ambient journeys into cosmic assembly lines where the spiritual intersects with the physical.
Often EPs are footnotes to strong careers, but for Dendera Bloodbath this is a bold statement, central to her artistic evolution. To speak of the success of the record as a charm in regards to health, riches, or any other song title may be premature, but one thing is certain: Xaoate is an absolute triumph.
Xaoate is available for streaming or $5 download via Bandcamp.