There is a creek that runs the length of my hometown, wending its way through city parks at the north end, along the freeway and behind apartment complexes. It ran alongside the homes of the wealthy and the homes of the poor on the south side of town. And in the center of town, a fairly old town for California, a mission town, it ran underground. Large tunnels to carry its flow, large tunnels with little walking paths on the sides, to allow workmen easy access into the depths of downtown.
The main tunnel runs from Marsh Street in the north, to the spot Monterey Street ends at Mission Plaza in the south. This subterranean world was lit only by the ambient light coming from the entrances to this world, and from two spots that had been set up as air holes, behind bars and stores. As children who ran in packs, we soon heard tales of these tunnels from older kids, older siblings. And though my friends and I were too scared to go ourselves, those older brothers of our group were eager to show bravery, so of course we tagged along. We called it Deep, Deep, Dark.
Chelsea Wolfe started putting out fairly serious music around 2010, slowly but surely building a strong following and critical success, eventually relocating from Sacramento to Los Angeles and signing with up and coming indie label Sargent House. In these years, she has also done soundtracks to small art films and it was her song Feral Love that powered the trailer for Games of Thrones season 4.
Described as “doom-drenched electric folk,” Wolfe has shown disparate influences, from Townes Van Zant to black metal stalwarts Burzum, covering the latter’s Black Spell of Destruction. She sings in a heavily modulated, distorted voice, often backed by violin player Andrea Calderon and has worked with artists as diverse as Mark Lanegan and Russian Circles.
Her newest album, Abyss has been proclaimed her strongest yet, and most metal. Produced by John Congleton it develops a nice rich, textured approach to an often delicate voice, even when modulated. Congleton, the master behind recent albums by David Byrne, The Swans, St Vincent and Murder by Death, helps Wolfe achieve the depth of sound that had been promised by her first few albums, but without losing the DIY feel of good indy work.
Walking on little side paths in the dark, unsure of any sounds we heard, along with coming through to the suddenly bright, sunlit areas of the tunnels was a moving experience for my friends and I, in the end becoming something we did up through high school. Nothing speaks so much to the abyss we walked as this album.