THIEF floats between the sacred and the profane on wings of distorted faith. The experimental electronic project relies almost exclusively on manipulated medieval choral music, and the end result—with its heady elements of trip-hop and ambient—is wholly alien. The high-minded concept and not too dissimilar to what founder D. Neal and live collaborator R. Chiang get up to in their primary band, Botanist, which has long captivated curious minds with inimitable, often inscrutable hammered dulcimer-led black metal. Both of THIEF's human components are well-versed in the hammered dulcimer, but here, move beyond their own expertise to try something totally new.
Though THIEF is in no way a "metal" band, the members' appreciation for the genre lingers; the artwork for the album was done by Manuel Tinnemans (Deathspell Omega, SUNN O))), Urfaust), and the overall dark, inhuman vibe is more unsettling than most black metal albums. They don't take themselves painfully seriously, either; D. Neal described the project to me as, "sort of like Ulver and a post-punk Massive Attack had sex in a haunted church and conceived a sad grief baby," and he's not wrong.
Based in LA, THIEF recently released its debut, Thieves Hymn in D Minor, which was released on vinyl via Lay Bare Recordings (vinyl copies are also available from Burning World). That's streaming here if you'd like to dive in, and we here at Noisey are pleased to present THIEF's first music video for "King of the Lepers" as accompaniment. It's a dusky, muted, vaguely cyberpunk affair, and introduces a fragile humanity that's often obscured by the album's search for unorthodoxy.
Kim Kelly is a ghost in the Twitter machine.