Lingua Ignota + Dis Fig + Skin @ La Sala Rossa 12th September 2019

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Lingua Ignota @ La Sala Rossa, Montreal

Lingua Ignota is not like any artist performing in heavy music in 2019 and her show is unlike anything you’ll see this year either. It’s more performance art than a concert and all cathartic release. And it’s heavy in more ways than one. An artist shrieking to a pre-recorded piano, a woman defiantly reclaiming herself from those who would try and control her. She draws on her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence for musical and lyrical inspiration, and describes her music as “survivor anthems”.


Earlier in the evening, we are treated to two captivating performances by artists experimenting with electronic soundscapes that perfectly set the mood for the headliner. Montreal’s Skin begins in near silence, adding layers as she goes and creating sounds from a bewilderment of analogue toys, including a reel of tape that she manipulates by hand. The audience is transfixed as her mostly-instrumental set climaxes with tortured screams and a rush of noise.

Dis Fig

Berlin’s Dis Fig continues the experimentation with a vortex of distorted vocals, heavy percussion and warped destructive beats, falling to her knees one minute and wandering through the crowd the next before returning to the stage to rinse cold, industrial sounds from her laptop. Her music may be minimalist and desolate but her set feels like some sort of exorcism. It may not be easy-listening but it’s fascinating to experience in a live setting.

Kristin Hayter is an American classically trained multi-instrumentalist originally from California. She has released music under the name Lingua Ignota (Latin for “unknown language”) since 2017 and says “I’m trying to construct something that speaks the unspeakable, and so I use this sort of amalgam of musical devices to make my own sonic language which is meant to also be ecstatic or outside the self.”

This premise is interpreted dramatically in her live performances. A piano, covered with plastic, is placed on the floor of the venue rather than on stage and the room is in virtual darkness save for a couple of harsh white lights around the piano that Hayter often carries with her as she wanders amongst her audience.

This is a highly personal expression. “How do I break you before you break me?” she sings on Do You Doubt Me Traitor before questioning “How can you doubt me now? Satan, get beside me.” Those in the room cannot take their eyes off her. It feels almost uncomfortably intimate and voyeuristic standing so close to a woman expressing such pain and anguish. Hayter seems lost in the music throughout. Whispers become screams and screams become whispers before she returns to the piano for a moment of calm.

Lingua Ignota possesses such an evocative voice that calls out from a profoundly tortured soul which has clearly been through hell and beyond but her unique live performance shows a woman channelling those horrific experiences into art that is as emotionally visceral and brave as it is captivating. Everyone here tonight leaves thankful for witnessing something utterly unique.

Review and photos – Steve Gerrard

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