Karyn Crisis’ Not-What-You-Think Independence Day Playlist

credit: Letitia Morino
credit: Letitia Morino

Karyn Crisis is one of the last of the independents. No matter what’s trending in the world of extreme music, you can be sure she’s off doing her own thing, a weirdo among weirdos (see: her most recent project, Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches). Pregame for next week’s Independence Day revelry with Crisis’ top 5 songs/albums that best represent independence.   

The two most important albums I’ve ever heard were Einstürzende Neubauten’s Füenf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala and Halber Mensch, particularly the tracks “Zerstörte Zelle (Destroyed Cell)” and “Seele Brennt.” I have to mention them together because I heard them together. Bought it in the 1980s in Chicago on vinyl, used, solely based on the artwork. I listened by dull lamplight one night, and it opened a whole universe up to me of what was possible musically. I couldn’t figure out how to play instruments, but I did understand percussion, and this made sense to me, and made me feel that making music could be approachable for my capabilities. I was a very introverted child who was very brave in trusting her art as a light to blaze a path through this dark world, and Einstürzende Neubauten showed me there was power in expressing myself OUT LOUD! It took me a while to be able to scream in the presence of someone else. When I did,  it was truly a primal scream for me; releasing years of pain and transforming them, with that amplified scream, into empowered rage! I learned from them how sound moved things, changed things, and changed me. I was inspired to be brave enough to speak my truth, to open my heart and let it all out.

Cocteau Twins Treasure: Female-fronted rock bands were unappealing to me because they were so ordinary. But CT were the ultimate “feminine mystery” expressed as an atmosphere with this album. Vocalist Liz Fraser stretched out the pronunciation of her lyrics so that they were almost indecipherable, but still her voice seemed to sing of mysteries that I wanted to know! Emotional music, otherworldly vocals sounding both strange and uncomfortable, but seemingly speaking of something important. Liz Fraser’s voice inspired me to find my own feminine expression.

Wardruna Gap Var Ginnunga expresses Spiritual freedom to me, and it resonates with a deep connection to Ancient Times and the Old Ways. I listen to this album during different types of meditation, and I always feel home in this music as it assists me connecting more deeply to the Spirit World and the Old Ways. It’s also refreshing to me that this modern expression of something very old feels so authentic and channeled from the Spirit World, rather than having the cheap taint of many modern DIY Spiritual expressions, which try to recreate the past while lacking the holistic truths our ancestors lived by.

Ephel Duath Through My Dog’s Eyes is an album I heard during my favorite month of October. I listened to it each morning while jogging as the sun rose, and also throughout the day, and it carried me into a new, dreamy place of emotion. It’s the perfect album to listen to during October when the electricity in the air is palpable and life seems between worlds, and all things seem possible. This album expressed emotion in music as a story, and it inspired me to trust in love, no matter how unpredictable and intangible love can seem. This was the soundtrack to time in my life where I was awakening to a larger perspective on life and death. The concept of the album, being from the perspective and experience of a dog, is a phenomenal idea in itself. In my experience I’ve learned many of the Great Mysteries from the love and wisdom of animals.

Celtic Frost’s song “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh”: Davide Tiso showed me this video at a time when I was detached from my former band, Crisis, and I was also trying to express what I’d experienced in Tuscany, Italy, where I was introduced to Italian Shamanism and Witchery through a Spirit Guide named Aradia. This song made me feel connected to something Ancient and occult, which also seemed so familiar to me. It was hugely inspirational to “keep going,” encouraging that I was on the right path, even though that path felt a bit isolated and unknown.