La Cathedrale Engloutie


Claude Debussy’s “The Sunken Cathedral” is based on a myth involving, well, a sunken cathedral off the coast of Brittany. The beautiful princess of a prosperous coastal town named Ys had an affair either with Satan or one of his many lieutenants on earth (as beautiful princesses tend to do). As punishment, the town was destroyed by sinking into the sea along with most inhabitants. Local legend held that on certain days you could hear the bells of the cathedral of Ys ringing from below. On other days, it was believed to rise briefly to the surface. Debussy begins by representing both waves and the ringing of the cathedral bells. As the cathedral rises, chanting monks and priests emerge, culminating with the great organ at 2:25: a brief emergence of a grand, underwater zombie Mass of the damned. Then it all sinks again until we just hear the bells. Near the end, the great organ melody makes a muted reappearance from the murky depths.

Beautifully creepy stuff here, with the obsessively perfect Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli looking like he’s playing this from deep within his castle in Transylvania. (He actually never lived in a castle in Transylvania, but for a while he did live in one near Brescia).

Count Jackula

Nosferatu has abandoned Transylvania for a pressing plant and dresses like Dieter of SNL. He now lives on molten vinyl, not blood. As a result, his hair has turned blue. He’d like you to know that he’s morally superior to other vinyl vampires. He doesn’t suck vinyl from other plants. He started his plant with his own money. He did this in 2017, so he’s cooler too.

He has a point, but so do the bigger, trend-surfing vampires. Why pump money into a medium that will again become unfashionable? The majors are not owned by one wealthy alt-rocker. They are beholden to shareholders who might see a pressing plant as a foolish investment. And there are other media, as most people stream anyway. Maybe he’s right, and the big labels should make room for others by pressing their own copies of Rumours and the latest Adele. Whatever, I just posted because I was amused at the vampire look and the moral posturing. If he wants to make this a moral issue, someone could always one-up him for using a petroleum product.