Lingua Ignota, AKA Kristin Hayter, is one of the most unique voices in underground music right now. Her elaborate, multi-genre, self-described “survivor anthems” act as a vessel to transform and reshape her experiences of trauma and abuse into a source of power. On 2019’s Caligula, her vision reached extraordinary heights. Here, dazzling classical and operatic sounds merged with abrasive noise and industrial, while the album explored violence, misogyny and abuse of power – using the titular Roman emperor as a central metaphor. Grand, detailed, and at times a seriously difficult listen, it was an intense but exhilarating work that earned her a fervent fanbase. With Sinner Get Ready, Kristin has developed a new and intriguing chapter of Lingua Ignota.
While Caligula was rich in grandeur and heavy on the harshness, Sinner Get Ready is rooted in traditional American music. Inspired in part by Kristin’s new home of rural Pennsylvania – described as a “severe” and “derelict” place where the influence of a particularly austere form of Christianity hangs heavy in the air – the album also uses traditional instrumentation; there are bells, woodwind instruments, and even a banjo. Kristin’s goal was to create dissonance, decay, and abrasiveness using these instruments – and in doing so she captures the eerie feel of her locality. But of course, this being Lingua Ignota, there are many layers to the sonic palette – with nods to avant-garde and modern compositions. Her voice is a focal point, and veers from severe to stunning – from the anguished howls and cries on I Who Bend The Tall Grasses, to the multi-part harmonies that highlight the glory of her towering, rich voice.
While less sonically brutal than Caligula, there is still a deep sense of unease bubbling throughout Sinner Get Ready. Kristin intertwines her personal experiences of pain with the album’s themes, which are focused primarily around religion specific to the Pennsylvania locality – from Amish Country to the 18th-century religious community, Ephrata Cloister. The blood of Jesus is a major lyrical motif, while The Sacred Linament Of Judgment includes a sample of disgraced evangelist Jimmy Swaggart begging for forgiveness. There is a cinematic, storytelling feel to the album, and it could also soundtrack a folk horror film with Midsommar and The Wicker Man vibes, but set in rural Pennsylvania.
A haunting, intricate, yet wonderfully complex piece of work, Sinner Get Ready is uncategorisable – still instantly recognisable as Lingua Ignota while managing somehow to sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
Sinner Get Ready is out August 6 via Sargent House.