Trepaneringsritualen, or shortened to T x R x P, is the main musical project from the mystical, legendary Swedish “goetic death-industrial” artist Thomas Martin Ekelund. He has gained a lot of medial attention over the last couple years, and with good reason! T x R x P spectacular and ritualistic live performances includes all the essentials of a dark disturbing noise/industrial act, lots of blood, religious symbolism, blasphemous chantings, and harsh abrasive soundscapes. Not only can he do impressive live shows, but he has a real knack for design and producing immaculate soundscapes, like his other(dead) project, Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words.
With the recent release of his latest full-lenght, Perfection & Permanence, the media fascination and spotlighting of this project has escalated to it being featured on Pitchfork, and named on a magazine list of what a “gothic” teenager should listen to. Has the original exclusivity and intent of a small and personal musical outlet been washed out with the ever increasing media attention? Has the integrity of the intimate ritual been lost, or has just the audience increased?
Trepaneringsritualen is the main musical project by the veteran Swedish underground noise/industrial musician Thomas Martin Ekelund. He has been in numerous bands and projects and has been, and is, running a few record labels, his latest being the very nice and well managed Beläten. The label is focused on dark, lo-fi, synth “un”-pop. Think of the synth bands from the 80’s, just dark and brooding for hipster goths.
There is no doubt about it, Thomas’ eye for details and excellent production leads to his projects being some of the most well made and well composed pieces of art that has emerged from the quite anaemic Swedish underground dark music scene. His label and design are immaculate, every sound in his music is placed perfectly, and his affinity of creating horrific and disturbing soundscapes, that almost borders on sounding too perfect, is just astounding! Not to mention his live performances, and his ghostly, rotten visage shows that he lives and breaths his music and message.
Being a quite personal and introspective project that reflects Thomas’ beliefs, T x R x P, often deals with religious themes and is steeped in religious symbolism and esoteric iconography. Christianity, and some heathen religions, is the main focus of Trepaneringsritualen. Perfection & Permanence is a study of one of the most venerated and despised figure in the worlds biggest death worshiping religion, Jesus of Nazareth.
With titles like, Castrate Christ, 39 Lashes, and Konung Krönt I Blod, there is isn’t much doubt to which side T x P x R stands on the issue. The lyrics shifts from nearly inaudible blasphemous chantings, to hermetic self-improvement mantras of The Seventh Man, the album can be a bit eclectic on the message and mood of the album. But the constant Ekelund soundscape holds the album together with a aura of evil pop music recorded from the next room, drenched in tar, and undergone surgery to remove all brilliance from the sounds.
This is death pop for the hip industrial goth-kid. And boy is it great!
With over 2 000 views on YouTube and somewhat big media coverage, it might be easy to say that some of the projects mystique has gone, but with Ekelund’s passion I don’t really think that cries of sell-out is validated.
(The song 39 Lashes, actually contains 39 lashes, now that’s trve!)