An Intricate Portrait of Lisa and Eric Hammer
by Azra Medea (World Of Fandom)
When I first heard of the band, Mors Syphilitica, it was about five years ago. I ordered their four-song demo tape from an ad in Ghastly Magazine. At that time they were calling themselves Requiem in White. All I can say is that the music completely floored me. Lisa Hammer has one of the most powerful and riveting voices that I have ever heard. Her eloquent style and truly operatic voice sears the soul with something unforgettable, conjuring images of everything from bacchanalian revelries to Elysium Fields glimpsed only in the darkest of dreams. Her voice is blended powerfully with Ericís driving gothic-style guitar oriented arrangements. Lisa and Eric Hammer could musically be likened to the alchemical sun and moon, and together they form the quintessence, a refined spirit of sound that resonates somewhere between the darkness and the twilight.
I later obtained the Requiem in White full length CD "Of the Want Infinite," an easy favorite of mine which left me wanting more. The band was called The Order of the NCS for a short time after that, and the CD produced under this name, "The Rituals of the New Poison" was actually done on a four-track and to the credit of this band was no less incredible for it. Now they have come full circle as Mors Syphilitica, and their latest CD under the bandsí name is comparable in form, with a heavier conceptualization of their inimitable style. This CD is rich with moods and colors, lush with sounds made all the more intense by the professional quality of the recording. You donít so much just listen to Mors Syphilitica, as you experience them. I have often said, "now here is a band that should be scoring films in their spare time." Perhaps one dayÖ
Lisa and Eric Hammer have set a precedent with their music, with their fans and also with the way they have chosen to present themselves to the media. First they are two of the kindest persons one would ever hope to encounter. Secondly, and some have thought this strange, they do not do interviews. As a direct result of this they have been shunned widely by many journalists who are deeply insulted that they simply will not grant them an exclusive interview. Some tried to make sure that the band got no press as a result, while others have even tried to black list the band. For those who still can not understand the ethical standards of a band that would deny themselves any sort of what they might call "shameless self-promotion," I would like to set the record straight. Mors Syphilitica, because of their more humble approach, is a band that does not believe in pursuing their own fame. It is their hopes and intent that their music will speak to the essential being of the listener, and there perhaps be understood on yet deeper levels. They are in fact idealists, and as such, they want to give their fans something more than can be found in mere idle words. As an aside, I also know that oftentimes interviews can lead to grand misconceptions. Individuals are sometimes misquoted either by mistake or through carelessness. Unfortunately this can be deliberate in some cases, depending on the slant of the magazine. Bands do get misquoted, more often than the average reader might realize, and they really have no recourse when this happens. As a direct result of Mors Syphiliticaís silence to the press, they rarely get the recognition that they truly deserve. I respect the fact that they have taken this vow of silence for the sake of their art. In this business, it is a very risky thing to do, and as such it is quite noble. To view their humble approach otherwise is to lack both the sensibilities of an artist, as well as what should be the professional manners of good journalism. Perhaps we can all learn something from a band that risks their own possible success for the sake of ethics and integrity. It takes a special kind of individual to go against the grain, so to speak, and that is exactly what the band Mors Syphilitica is doing.
Lisa is truly a fairy tale princess, who looks (yes, all the time,) like she just stepped out of the Fourteenth Century. She is a talented artist not only in the realm of vocalizing but also in the unlikely genre of filmmaking. The way that I found this out was quite a coincidence. I was at the Chiller Convention in New Jersey when I was passing by Anna Puchalskiís table. She makes all these wonderful dark, ghostly, vampyric, little dolls. Also on the table was an assortment of videos. I was immediately drawn to the film that was running on the television behind the table. From the look of it, I took it to be a film from the Silent Era, and I noticed it was one that I had never seen. I asked Anna if it was from the 20ís and she told me then that it was a modern film made to look like an old silent picture; and that her friend Lisa Hammer had directed it. Aha! I bought it immediately; right along with this lovely little purple graveyard doll called a black orchid... I fell in love with this short film, as I have always been enticed by things with the look of the German expressionistic era, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or Metropolis. There could also have been some inspiration here drawn from Georges MťliŤs work, historically the director of the first horror film, " Le Manoir du Diable," in 1896. Lisa has directed more than one film, but this one, entitled, "The Elaborate Empire of Ache," is the only one that I have ever been able to find. As a director, her vision is superb. She truly captured the Silent Era with this film that also stars Dame Darcy in the leading role. Eric Hammer created the score, setting an archaic mood after the tradition of the lost art of silent film era. Eric is the austere and quiet one who reminds me of a cross between an ancient nobleman dropped into a post-modern setting, with a touch of the dark ages about him. As well as being the guitarist and the creator behind the music of Mors Syphilitica, he is also a wonderful painter. Eric Hammer paints all the cover designs and artwork for the band. The images are haunting and abstract, detailing the polarities that span the beautiful and the horrific, nuances of pleasure and pain depicted in ways that haunt the mind. His images resonate with something hidden in the darker reaches of the human spirit. These works are depictions of archetypes from the dream- time, mixed with just enough reality to cause them to imprint themselves indelibly upon the consciousness of the observer. Some of the works of Eric Hammer can be viewed in the on-line gallery at: http://www.graveside.com/gallery.htm
Mors Syphilitica is a band that has truly marked a place in music history, within our own time and for many years to come.
Currently, the Hammerís are hard at work applying the finishing touches to their upcoming CD "Primrose." This CD was recently picked up by Slag Records and will be released towards the end of February. Sound and visual clips from Mors Syphilitica's live video "Dreams of the Many" can now be seen at MTV's "Out from the Underground" web address. This is an admirable attempt on MTVís part to help underground bands get the exposure they deserve.
A new dark web has been erected to Mors Syphilitica, at this address: http://www.graveside.com/mors.htm
The site was created by Graveside Entertainment through cooperation with Sacrum Torch Records to serve as the official information center for the fans of Mors Syphilitica. Here you will be able to find information on their latest releases, concert dates and other such events. For more information about Mors Syphilitica, write or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org You can also receive a copy of the new Sacrum Torch catalog by sending $2 to this address along with your request.