Some words from Marcus Whale on his fourth solo album, Ecstasy:

“Ecstasy (from the Greek ‘ekstasis’) means to be outside yourself, making porous the boundaries of the body and soul. When I think ecstasy, I imagine the pleasure that goes beyond the self, that undoes the self and draws towards the void. I also picture the Bernini marble sculpture of St. Teresa of Avila, depicting her in sensual, flowing drapery, eyes closed in erotic bliss the moment before her abdomen is penetrated by the blazing arrow of a cherub. The 16th Century mystic/nun is known for her violent raptures with God, in which her body was seized by a divine power that took her soul towards heaven while her body shook out of control.

Teresa’s giving up of total control to God in embracing this enraptured experience of pain has provided fertile ground for theorists of ecstasy from Lacan to Kristeva to Bataille. Ecstasy, in the images Teresa describes of her raptures, resembles possession, the outside that violates the border and pours inside. It’s also excess, the inside that leaks out into the world we’re separated from. It’s the radical otherness the self dissolves into. It’s the hole in you that you give up to others. It’s eroticism at its violent edge.

Where my previous albums used allegory and metaphor (the vampire’s familiar, the figure of Lucifer, the mythical ‘inland sea’ of the Australian colony) to think of desire as a loss of control through the invitation for transformation by greater and unknown forces, I’ve tried to think more literally about the experience of this kind of ecstatic masochism in the shattering or undoing of the self. To me, this album is about the same drives as the previous ones, unveiling the pure feeling underneath.

The music on this album is inspired by music cultures I find ecstatic: rave music, footwork, improvisation, drone, choral music from the Renaissance, Modernist and minimalist eras, the percussion of dabke and Persian music. The sound of Ecstasy vibrates, shimmers and shakes, stretching between the limits of the 0 and the 1. It oscillates, circles and spirals in and out. It’s covered in voice, pitched up and down, sliding, elongated, choral and singular, one and many. I’m trying to draw a line between the intoxicating ceremony of liturgy, the moment of dancing at an outdoor location as the sky begins to turn to light and the experience of losing control at the hands of others, this moment where you close your eyes and think of nothing.

Release: March 8, 2024, Blue Void