Stephen Roddy – Leviathan
There are many interpretations of the Leviathan concept, but here Leviathan is the mythological world-serpent who encircles the Earth in a ring, and upon whom the Earth is built. It is the anima mundi or world-soul that separates the material earth from the chaos of the immaterial. The death of the Leviathan is the end of the material world and so the death of the Earth too. Iterations and deviations on this central idea recur across diverse cultures with Babylonian Tiamat, Sesha of the Hindu Puranas, and Norse Jörmungandr, but the version described here above is most identifiable with Ophite Gnosticism.
Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan is a totalitarian force for social and political cohesion. Conceived during a time of Civil War and rooted in a deeply materialist framework, Hobbes’ Leviathan is an absolute sovereign to whom members of a society, in social contract with one another, cede certain powers, claims, and freedoms so that they might live alongside one another in peace. Hobbes’ intense fear of anarchy and chaos, represented in his hypothetical state of nature, lent a distinctly fascist flavour to his thinking. Regardless of this, or maybe even because of this, Hobbes’ Leviathan has been deeply influential in the realms of political theory and international law.
Faced with the inevitability of climate collapse, we find our social and political worlds in advanced states of decay while the Earth, greedily exploited and abused now for centuries, winds and coils around us twisting itself into ever more inhospitable configurations. The lives of many are becoming increasingly solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Leviathan confronts this looming state of ecological and socio-political collapse in a series of sonic tableaus assembled around the four basic elements of alchemy: Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire. Each piece reflects upon a unique real-world location in the context of its relationship to our impending annihilation. Sonically, each tableau is crafted with a combination of electric guitar and sampled instrumentation with musique concrète and computer music techniques. The results sit somewhere between dark ambient, ritual drone, and noise music.
The final piece here is an ode to, and lament for, the Leviathan as the hypothetical anima mundi that once encircled and held together a world that now seems caught in an inescapable downward spiral, in which we edge ever closer to ecological cataclysm, and human tragedy abounds.
Leviathan was recorded around midsummer 2023, from June 20th-24th, with the final piece recorded on July 2nd. It was recorded in response to our rapidly intensifying climate catastrophe. July 3rd, 2023 was the hottest day ever recorded on this planet and 2 days later on July 5th a particularly intense El Niño arrived.
Release date: October 6th, 2023.