After ten years of baring my psychic wounds to the world at large, I had announced plans for the death of NAVICON TORTURE TECHNOLOGIES in 2007, and performed under the NTT name for the final time in November of that year, at Unsound NYC. The final releases finally saw the light of day in 2009, opening the way for new projects and a broader scope for my artistic endeavors.
The definitive final opus of the project was the double CD, The Gospels of the Gash, from Malignant Records. A special limited boxed edition included a second set of CD-Rs containing remixes and collaborative tracks with AUN, AUTOCLAV 1.1, THE BIRD CAGE THEATER, BLACK SUN, CENOTYPE, COVET, DEUTSCH NEPAL, EIDULON, FRAGMENT KING, HECATE, HERBST9, INSWARM, JARBOE, THE [law-rah] COLLECTIVE, STEVE MOORE (ZOMBI), KRISTOFFER NYSTRÖMS ORKESTER, PROMETHEUS BURNING, and TROUM. A deluxe remastered CD re-press of these discs was released by Malignant Records in 2013.
Unsound NYC moved to Fontana’s, on the northwestern tip of Chinatown in Manhattan, from September through December 2008, and I continued to curate some impressive lineups, including the first and only US appearance by Glasgow proto-industrial doom band BLACK SUN at a Halloween event featuring the return of NADJA, joined by MENACE RUINE. The SUBARACHNOID SPACE show included one of the earliest performances by New York’s BATILLUS, who at that time were an instrumental three-piece, prior to Fade Kainer of INSWARM/STATIQBLOOM joining the band. For our last two events, we managed to secure some sponsorship from Brooklyn-based label, The End Records.
Unsound NYC ceased operations after several shows at this location, owing to concerns within the personal lives of those involved. The Unsound NYC brand was abandoned when the (previously unknown to me) Poland-based Unsound Organisation began producing events in New York around this time.
UNSOUND NYC AT FONTANA’S (DOWNTOWN MANHATTAN) AUGUST-DECEMBER 2008
AUGUST 22, 2008
SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
SEPTEMBER 20, 2008
OCTOBER 31, 2008
STEVE MOORE (ZOMBI)
NOVEMBER 28, 2008
DECEMBER 10, 2008
DECEMBER 19, 2008
THE AUSTERITY PROGRAM
THEOLOGIAN became active in late 2009 as my new solo industrial project, following the dissolution of NTT. First releasing a slew of CD-Rs on ANNIHILVS, I then produced a limited cassette with Providence-based Danvers State Recordings, the tape label run by Andrew Grant of THE VOMIT ARSONIST. THEOLOGIAN found a home with the incomparable Crucial Blast for the project’s first full-length album, released concurrently with a digital EP, featuring the very first material recorded under the THEOLOGIAN name, in 2010.
In autumn of 2012 THEOLOGIAN released a four-song CDEP, Finding Comfort in Overwhelming Negativity, with Handmade Birds, the label run by R Loren (PYRAMIDS/SAILORS WITH WAX WINGS/WHITE MOTH), and a second full-length on Crucial Blast, both to general acclaim (receiving a vaunted 7.4 from Pitchfork). A stream of collaborative releases had flowed from ANNIHILVS from 2010, as I sought to broaden the project’s conceptual and sonic spectrum.
Collaboration had been a major element of the output from NTT, while THEOLOGIAN was originally conceived purely as a solitary undertaking, but it became clear that working with other artists continued to be a source of creative fulfillment. To this end, I recruited frequent collaborator Fade Kainer (INSWARM/STATIQBLOOM/BATILLUS) and former NTT contributor Matt Slagle to fill out a live configuration consisting of myself on vocals and electronics, with Kainer on synths, and Slagle playing a dual role as live drummer and keyboardist, while utilizing incredible visual projections created for the band by the Brooklyn-based motion graphics designer NXR VISUALS whenever possible. As of 2014 the photographer Gretchen Heinel took over production of new visual backdrops for THEOLOGIAN performances.
The next THEOLOGIAN album, Some Things Have to Be Endured, the project’s fourth release on Crucial Blast, was created in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Derek Rush (COMPACTOR/DREAM INTO DUST), featuring vocals and additional components contributed by a number of extraordinary female artists. The trio of Kainer, Slagle, and I collaborated on Pain of the Saints, a megalithic double album for Malignant Records, along with several other contributors, which was released at the end of 2014.
“Theologian uses conventional metal misery as merely a springboard. The ends form the expected stew of claustrophobic suffering, but the means show Bartow to be a most cunning doom practitioner.” – Alarm Magazine
“...most of [Theologian’s] slow movements of minimal sonic materials define more a place than a narrative following in the tradition of the original intent behind ambient music. And it’s a place, while certainly depressing and occasionally enraged, that provides somewhere to wallow but offers no relief from a broken heart.” – Musique Maschine
“There is a path, there is a goal. You may just have to fly through some pretty sick shit to get there. But rest assured that when you arrive on the other side, you’ll be better for getting there. This is an intense experience, but one that I can only recommend.” – Hammer Smashed Sound
“During the past few years, the intersection of the Venn diagram linking noise, electronica, and heavy metal has been improbably rewarding...For the last two decades, Lee M. Bartow has hovered near that nexus... Beneath a sculpted surface of static and sustained tones, Bartow has added massive beats and, at some turns, veritable (if rarely decipherable) singing...In the background, Bartow slows and shifts his intonations, suggesting Jónsi Birgisson fracturing a Nitzer Ebb song into pieces only to sing behind the bedlam...” – Pitchfork
“Bartow consistently plays rougher than, say, Lustmord or Coil (darker, too -the title track finds him deploying textures corrosive enough for power electronics), hardly surprising given his former life as dimension-hopping electrobrutalist Navicon Torture Technologies. As Theologian, he brings way more nuance to the dissecting table without sacrificing anything in the way of decidedly alien – and utterly welcome – responses to the vicissitudes of mundane existence.” – Decibel Magazine
In November 2009, I produced APEX FEST III, a two-day event featuring:
ADERLATING (GNAW THEIR TONGUES sideproject)
THE AUSTERITY PROGRAM
THE BIRD CAGE THEATER
COREPHALLISM (TWODEADSLUTS ONEGOODFUCK sideproject)
GNAW (featuring Alan Dubin, ex-KHANATE)
RISE OF BECAUSE (ROSETTA sideproject)
T-FAKTOR (TERRORFAKT sideproject)
THE VOMIT ARSONIST