The Istanbul queer scene comes together in Darkwave act Elz and the Cult’s “Dystopian prayer”, a music video directed by artist and filmmaker Joana Kohen.
The track is featured on the project’s latest album PSYCHODRAMA, a record helmed by ELZ formed his touring band ‘The Cult’—consisting of Eylul Deniz on synthesizer and Efe Akincioglu on the bass guitar. The trio have performed with acts like The Soft Moon & Drab Majesty, as well as their fellow countrymen Jakuzi.
The video for “Dystopian Prayer” is a three-way collaboration of Elz and The Cult with artist & filmmaker Joana Kohen and the queer performers of Istanbul underground; infusing elements of subversive imagery and bodily horror with the dark, enigmatic music of “the cult”, equally enticing and provocative. The cast of queer performers breaching the dogmatic morals and binary gender roles of society in the clip is also quite self-referential as this is exactly what the clip achieves; to set off a sense of unease, showcasing taboo images of intimacy and iniquity. In this sense, it can be considered a quasi-documentarian work exhibiting the creative art scene and a new generation of creators that has grown rapidly in Istanbul.
A bare captive (BasicDisarm, long-time collaborator and a member of ‘the cult’), lies unconscious as evil entities embellish him in stones and mutilate him whilst the images of an oriental underground cult drinking and gambling fuses eastern imagery with the predominantly western imagery of horror. The present theme of duality between the sinister and the pure is embodied by ELZ himself, delivered perfectly by the all-black and all-white couture costumes by Giray Sepin and Sudi Etuz and the prosthetic make-up by Müesser Seda Sümer that portrays ELZ as a half-human half-cyborg creature, reminiscent of a man-made freak, a possessed deviant. It is a profusely cinematic body of work complementing the band’s quintessential style as “PSYCHODRAMA” is a conceptual album heavily influenced by and directly referencing Kubrick’s film scores and all-time classic films like Gremlins and their past work.
The contributing artists and performers that brought the project to life are as follows; BasicDisarm, Caglar Almendi, Dethpraxis, Willie Ray, Anna Tholia, Larissa Petrovna, Cassandra Mert Eken, Berca Aşan, Günalp Gödez; all styled by Ece Özel.
Watch the video for “Dystopian Prayer” below with graphics provided by Studio Further:
In December of 2018, Elz and The Cult released two different versions of his second studio album PSYCHODRAMA with Istanbul’s Ampirik Records and Germany’s darkwave record label Cold Transmission Music, via digital, CD, and Cassette.