REVIEW: Escaping AgharthaWhite-Nose Syndrome

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Escaping Aghartha is back with more environmentally conscious music to please your ears and pull your heart down into your guts.

The previous release, Oceanic Womb, addressed issues of ocean acidification and warming. This experimental ambient metal release brings you a 30-minute track, “Accepting Death Amidst an Inexorable Blizzard,” chronicling the plight of bats infected with white-nose syndrome. The disease is caused by cavers and spelunkers bringing in an invasive European fungus as they explore, which then grows in hibernating bats’ noses, causing them to awaken in the middle of winter and starve to death as they have no insects to feed on.

The piece, a sort of heavy music tone poem, builds layers of desperation and reaches a climax point halfway through where pulses, presumably emulating a bat’s echo location, beat upon a background of shrieks and wails. Despair and hopelessness set in, and death is inevitable. This motif returns a few minutes later, building to an even more aching crescendo. Knowing the information about the main conceit of the music, as well as the point of view we’re following turned this into a pretty emotional listening session for me.

To say this is a somber piece of music would be an understatement. As well the music should be. Here’s some of what the artist has to say:

The awakened bats starve to death, as their insect prey is nowhere to be found in the depths of the cold months. Mortality rates of afflicted bats range from 70-90% on average. In 2012, it was estimated that nearly 7 million bats had perished from white-nose syndrome so far.

Many bat species are threatened by this fungus, three of them listed federally endangered. It’s likely that if this trend continues, more bat species will become endangered or extinct. It’s vital that action is taken to restrict entry into caves, preventing new caves from being contaminated with the fungus. Decontamination of clothing is important as well, for those who are permitted to enter.

I’m honestly a big fan of long-form pieces like this, and I think this effort was extremely well-done. When doing socially-conscious music of any stripe I think it’s important to find a way of building empathy with what you’re advocating for, and this POV of a bat doomed to die with its kin through no fault of its own is immensely successful.

If you dug the music, please give Escaping Aghartha some love. If you’d like to find out more about how you can help bats in regards to white-nose syndrome, please visit the Center for Biological Diversity.

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