As a brand new writer to Nine Circles, it feels somewhat symbolically significant that my first article here should be one of thanks. I’ve grown up surrounded by music in general and, since my college years, by heavy music specifically. Punk, hardcore, metal… after a childhood spent with classical music, film scores and classic rock, these genres welcomed me with open arms and I never looked back. I’ve been given so much by the art, music and individuals of these communities that I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
Which leads me to the subject of my metal thankfulness: Aaron Turner. Perhaps more so than any other single individual, Mr. Turner has had a profound impact on my musical/artistic sensibilities. And if you’re a fan of metal (in any of its forms), I’d wager he’s had an impact on you. ISIS (the amazing band, not those murdering assholes), Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, Jodis, Greymachine, Split Cranium, Sumac: these are just seven of the bands that Turner has either created or collaborated with over the course of his career thus far. Two of those bands (ISIS and OMG) are in my personal top ten groups of all-time. Neither band has ever been content with simply being heavy (though with the talents of all the people involved in both projects, that would be enough on its own). Each has shown their own knack for pushing the envelope and pursuing new ways of filling the world with beautiful weirdness.
If that weren’t already enough, Turner also formed Hydra Head Records in 1993, which transformed the world of metal and experimental music over the course of nearly 20 years. Though Hydra Head has ceased putting out new release as of 2012, they continue to make their presence and impact felt through offering new represses of their back catalog, many of which have been out of print for a while. My shelves are packed with HHR albums, a perfect musical home for me, an off-kilter introvert looking for compelling art to challenge and reform my understanding of the world… and myself in the process. He’s also gone on to create another record label, SIGE, which is on track to be just as provocative as HHR often was.
Finally, Turner’s skill in the visual arts is also maddeningly excellent. While I am less well-versed in the worlds of painting, drawing, sketches, collages, etc., I know what moves me. And Turner’s visual works are something else. While I’ve included a few of my favorites in this piece, be sure to spend some quality time on his blog, Feral Pig. It’s packed with his artwork and influences, stretching back to 2007. I’ll be shocked if you don’t come across at least one piece that doesn’t speak to you in some way.
And so, in some small measure, this is my thanks to Aaron Turner. Thank you for your art, visual, musical or otherwise. The world is richer place thanks to you and my existence in particular is heavier, sharper, weirder and more compelling thanks to you.