“A mental patient in a psychotic state drew this only hours before taking his own life.” How much truth is there in the story of this drawing running on the internet with such a caption? Well, the story seems to be real and comes from Holland.
Gulaggh never allowed anyone to be photographed. The band has never performed live, and all the members have remained in total anonymity. The reason for such confidentiality is in the screams of psychiatric patients they used as “vocals” in their albums — including schizophrenics, raped women, or children. One of the members works in a mental institution and, according to them, the patients have always made the recordings in full awareness of the project.
Even if the institute seemed to be not aware of the real use of these recordings — that are passed off as conceptual art —, Gulaggh said that the patients experienced the recordings as a powerful therapy, a sort of outlet in which they let out all the malaise. “We want the pain and suffering in the vocals to be real and not acted,” the band said Vice. “Some of them are a lot more intelligent than normal people. The mind of the mentally deranged is far more interesting than the minds of sane people.”
Born in the Netherlands, in 2000, under the name Stalaggh — term used for prisoner-of-war camps in Germany —, in 2007, at the end of their first trilogy, the name was changed to Gulaggh — like the Soviet concentration camps. Among their productions, the EP Vorkuta and albums like Projekt Nihil, focused on the futility of existence, Projekt Terrror, which has the function of scaring the listener, and Projekt Misanthropia, based on the feeling of hatred towards humanity and life. During the recording of Projekt Terrror one of the members was almost strangled to death by one of the patients — “you can hear the sound of the strangling if you listen carefully.”
About the use of children screams, it took the band almost a year to get permission to record them. They wanted to recreate the Vorkuta Gulag atmosphere, a camp where there were many women and children. “The screams of women and children create a completely different atmosphere,” they said. “We just asked the children to scream as loud as they possibly could. The staff members made us stop recording when the children became too emotional and started crying.”
In response to a question about the author of the famous “last drawing”, on one of their social networks, the band said that one of their vocalists made it before he committed suicide. A version questioned by some, but which closely resembles the story behind the Wheat Field with Crows painted by Vincent van Gogh, in July of 1890, before he shot himself. The life of a “madman” is often so terrifying and inconceivable for any “sane person”. Looking for logical explanations in it, is still one of the funniest shows to watch.