Kristin Hayter, known professionally as Lingua Ignota, is an American classically trained multi-instrumentalist.
In 2017, she self-released the albums Let the Evil of His Own Lips Cover Him and All Bitches Die under the Lingua Ignota moniker (Latin for “unknown language”), which spread through word-of-mouth. Lingua Ignota’s music caught the attention of Profound Lore Records, who re-issued All Bitches Die and released her third studio album Caligula in 2019. She draws on her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence for musical and lyrical inspiration, and describes her music as “survivor anthems”. She is originally from Southern California and currently resides in Pennsylvania.
Her new release, Sinner Get Ready, is an abrasive, unsettling portrait of devotion and betrayal, judgment and consequence, set in the severe and derelict landscape of rural Pennsylvania, a neglected and interstitial region deeply embedded with a particularly austere brand of Christianity, and where Hayter currently lives. The rigorous and almost procedural psycho-geographical approach reflects an obsession with externalizing that site as the locus of great personal pain — pain that is the Will of that region’s presiding God; an atonement for sin that only the blood of Jesus can cleanse.
Hayter continues to transgress, building on the mythology she has created with her previous releases but renegotiates and dismantles her own aesthetic language. She abandons any previous industrial grandeur and multi-genre approach, instead focusing on creating dissonance and decay with traditional instruments of the Appalachian region, dangerously unrefined vocals and congregational polyphony, subverting American primitive forms with avant-garde techniques and nods to modern composition. Lyrics and melodic motifs from past work reappear in unexpected ways, mirroring the repetition of cognitive patterns, the trappings of a lonely cycle.
Lyrically, Hayter’s distinctive ability to weave the allegorical with personal tragedy is further refined, as intimate lamentations on abandonment and loneliness are carefully braided with references to Mennonite treatises, calls to repent written on barns in Amish Country, illuminated manuscripts from ascetic religious sects in the monastic cloisters of Ephrata , and lore of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Songs are rich with duality. for example Pennsylvania Furnace, is a liebestod that ruminates on the inevitability of God’s judgment, evoking the legend of an 18th century ironmaster whose dogs return to drag him down to hell after he throws them all into his furnace in a rage. Perpetual Flame of Centralia is a quiet meditation on one of the major lyrical motifs of the record, the blood of Jesus; that which can “wash and cleanse every stain,” as tearfully expressed by disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart in a televised confession sampled on the previous song The Sacred Linament of Judgement , named after an abandoned mining town where fire has been burning underground since 1962, opens with an interview with the prostitute that brought Swaggart’s indiscretions to the surface. It serves as a warning, deceptive in its beauty.
The album is Lingua Ignota’s first full-length outing on Sargent House and was created with Hayter’s primary collaborator, producer and engineer Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets in Rhode Island, with additional arrangements and performances from multi-instrumentalist and composer Ryan Seaton, and elaborate banjo-playing from J. Mamana.
This is an intense and thought provoking release, it demands careful listening and is both inspirational and at times frightening. It is not for those who prefer easy listening!
To be featured on Aural Delights 454