This two song EP starts with a melange of dark ambient before ushering in noisy, tape-quality black metal proper. There seems equal likelihood of Lubbert Das coming to prefer either of these two musical routes in the future but for now the heart of this recording is a black metal of drawn-out tremolo phrases supplemented with fast drums in regular time and howling wraith vocals commonly associated with bands like Leviathan and Xasthur.
Intra-riff variation – meaning accented notes, picking across strings, changes in rhythm – is rare and used as an intermezzo; for the most part, Lubbert Das‘ music resembles broad swathes of solid colors placed next to each other with clean delineations. This is a paradigm of rigid riffsets driving forward momentum, one in which the musical quality of said riffsets and their placement becomes of great importance.
Fortunately, these songs have good melodic sense and grasp of composition. Riffs are frequently in halves; one ends unresolved, while that immediately following climbs back down towards the root note to hint at closure. This play of tension and release is also sustained by riffsets alternating between consonant minor scales and more dissonant fare, a classic call-response technique of black metal. For all that, both songs on Deluge carry a verisimilitude that feels more an intentional common theme than creative limitation.
“Master, cut away the stone
my name is Lubbert Das”
Lubbert Das take their name from a Bosch painting called ‘Cutting The Stone‘, a reference to trepanation, precursor to lobotomy, and the Stone Of Madness which was thought responsible for mental illness in the middle ages. A subject worthy of the artist’s ghoulish and fantastical ouevre, in the painting are seen four contrasting miens. There is the poor fool Lubbert Das himself, at the farther reaches of physical agony being operated on for his foolishness. The nun maintains a neutral and somewhat bored studiousness at the brutal spectacle before her, all the more disjointed seeing how she is balancing on her head a book of some sort. Possibly scripture, judging by the exhorting friar on her left. But is that a black collar he wears? A Black Friar? The cruel orthodoxy?
Finally there is the cherubic surgeon wearing an inverted funnel on his head. The more studied interpretation at this link suggests that the inverted funnel indicates the trickery associated with charlatans of the day, of common sense and mercy literally upended and stood on its head. What catches my attention, however, is that it is not the stone of madness that the surgeon extracts from Lubbert’s skull, but a flower. The same link points out that it is a golden-petaled flower, synonymous with wisdom. This is a fine extrapolation, for to have a piece of brain cut out by a quack, and with the indulgence of God’s spokesmen here on earth, does indeed seem like the death of wisdom.
My take on the same is that madness itself can be a flower, and a gold-petaled one, too. I don’t know the context which Lubbert’s character occupies in Dutch literature; maybe he is a genuine idiot through and through. But look at him in a certain light and there is his tragedy, and our own tragedy; see him convince himself into thinking that there is something wrong with him, because everyone around him says so, even those who are supposed to be in touch with his maker. He senses he’s different, he knows others avert their eyes when he passes by as if he doesn’t exist, they rake at him and pull him down till he skulks away like a wounded dog full of self-recrimination.
Should he go, should he not? They reassure him, that he’ll be fine and good as new, a new Lubbert never to be scowled at again. He goes, with great faith and the blessing of his fellow man, to get his flower of madness removed. That bloom of insanity to no longer reside inside him, he is finally at peace with the world and with himself…but for how long?