mardi 29 septembre 2015

Seremonia : the interview

Seremonia released (with Svart records) what is easily one of my favourite album of the year with Kristalliarkki (read my review HERE). An infectious trip into rocking psychedelic weirdness. Below is the interview we did via email :

-to start with, can you tell us how did you formed Seremonia? what was the project as the start?

It's the usual story: We've been friends for a long time, played music together in different bands over the years. We're big fans of old obscure heavy psychedelic rock, and wanted to hear that sort of stuff in our own language. No one else seemed to be doing it at the time so we did it ourselves. Now we get to hear it AND play it at the same time! Win-win situation.

-what about Kristalliarkki? I think it shows a great improvement compared to your previous releases, you really managed to make your music really unique. how does it fit in your discography in your opinion?

For sure it's different than the first two albums. I'd say there's more free experimentation on Kristalliarkki, but also parts that are more carefully arranged than before. But still, our song writing & recording process has always been pretty spontaneous. We try leave room for all sorts of surprises and improvise a lot when recording the basic tracks for a song. It's not an exact science, so for example Kristalliarkki just sort of came out the way it came out. We had overall ideas about the structure and moods of the album beforehand, but when we record there's not a lot of second quessing or second takes. I hope that on future albums this free spirit will lead us to constant new musical discoveries.

-How would you describe your music? could we say it's an original mix of 60' inspired garage rock / proto-punk / heavy metal with psychedelic and prog rock with maybe a bit of free jazz and finnish folk, is that correct? I think making that mix sound cohesive is a great achievement, what's the recipe?  

Yep, that's a handy genre tag right there! We are certainly influenced by all that stuff and even more stuff that may not be so audible in our music. I'd say we can incorporate all the different elements and still ”keep it together” because of the way we play as a band. For example, our singer Noora has a very unique voice and our drummer Erno pounds away in his strangely wonderful manner. There's a weird originality to how we play together. It all ends up sounding like Seremonia.

-which bands influenced you the most? and how did you get into this kind(s) of music?

Hard to say & too many to mention, but some big influences: Finnish bands like Haikara, Radiopuhelimet, Mana Mana, Xysma, Charlies, Terveet Kädet.
International stuff such as Black Sabbath, Ainigma, Pentagram & Los Dug Dugs.
We are all record nerds and collectors, and old psychedelic rock is one of our favorite ”genres” to dig into. So I guess we've been into into for a long long time, but there's still many little paths to follow and find new (old) music!

-what are your favourite french bands? (I'm french so that explains the question!) and which finnish bands would you recommend?

Some french favorites: Giants such as Magma, Catherine Ribeiro & The Alpes, early Gong (+ the Obsolete -album made with Dashiell Hedayat), 80's heavy metal bands High Power, Warning and Attentat Rock, Les Légions Noires black metal stuff...

Finnish bands: All those mentioned as our influences + a ton of others! I'll mention a few current bands people should check out: Circle, Garden Of Worm, Death Hawks, Jarse, Räjäyttäjät, Jukka & Jytämimmit, Cosmo Jones Beat Machine, Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L.

-what is the typical writing process for Seremonia?

Me and our bass player Ilkka have a lot of riffs available. Ilkka usually writes the lyrics. We have some ideas for choruses or verses. Then we all meet at the rehearsal place, put some riffs in a row and Noora tries out the lyrics. Then we sort of hammer the basic structure of the song out. In a few minutes it's usually a GREAT SUCCESS! That's the typical writing process. Of course all the other members bring in riffs, songs and ideas and ”arrangements” for their own instruments so the finished or recorded versions are always very equally by all of us. You could say that the way we play together is an important part of the ”composition” of each song.

-what about the choice to sing in your language? why in your opinion Finland is a country where more bands (compared to most contries) are singing in their own language and not in english.

Many of our influences come from music sung in Finnish. Of course you have a deeper connection to your first language, writing lyrics or singing it. And also, just because there's enough bands in the world singing in english. We think it just SOUNDS more original, our sort of music with our own language. Finnish is a weird little language, harsh and beautiful at the same time.
In the 70's and 80's there was a lot of innovative rock, prog and punk songwriters doing it in Finnish and that still has a huge influence on the music scene here. Lyrics are important here, maybe even more so than the music, and most of the big local rock or schlager music hits here have a lot to do with the lyrics of the song touching people's hearts. And that's easier to do in your own language.
Of course, most mainstream music and lyrics here are shit, regardless of the language!

-what about the lyrics? 

Our lyrical subjects vary from song to song or album to album, but they tend to be quite dark and the view of the world and humanity quite pessimistic/realistic. There is an overall theme of destruction and evil in man. Destruction of nature, destruction of the human spirit. Kristalliarkki is a sort of concept album about a suicidal religious cult sect searching for ”the path of freedom”. It's a spiritual journey gone wrong. Kristalliarkki (the Crystal Ark) is an idea stolen from an actual local religious sect from the 30's, the Korpela Movement. They believed that a Crystal Ark would come down from the sky to take the chosen ones to the Holy Land. Unfortunately The Crystal Ark never appeared and the Korpela sect spiralled deeper into insanity, strange sexual rituals and rampant alcoholism with deeply religious twists. Our album is not about the Korpela story, but about the cultist mentality in general. We include English translations on all our albums covers, so you can get a clue of what we are singing about even if you don't know Finnish.

-can you choose a song you especially like in the new album and comment on how it was written and about the lyrics?

Tee mitä tahdot” is one of my personal favorites. There's a lot of 60's garage psych flavor and nice out-of-control instrumentation. And it features the autoharp, which is always a nice instrument. Lyrics are by our main lyricist Ilkka Vekka, and the chorus is basically a Finnish translation of ”Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”. So in this one, there's strong influence from Aleister Crowley's law of the Thelema.

-psychedelia and is often associated with, metaphorically speaking, opening gates and discovering new paths and territories, and as a musical movement coincided with questionning the dominant values and experimentating new ways of living. how do you relates to that and what does psychedelia means to you personnaly?

Psychedelia is definitely more than just a bunch of established genre rules. Like which guitar pedal / which vintage amplifier / which vintage drugs make you sound ”psychedelic”. For me it's a fundamental idea of freedom in music, ”letting go” of the controls and getting lost in the moment. Embracing ”mistakes”, accidents and all sorts of unintentional noise. It doesn't happen everytime we play live, and you can't really force it, but sometimes you reach a ”different mental state” with collective improvisation. It feels like the music is playing you and not the other way around. ANYTHING can and will happen. It's a somewhat scary, extremely exhilarating, very liberating and highly addictive feeling. I personally don't do any drugs or drink alcohol, but I recommend music or arts in general as means to reach a ”psychedelic state of mind”. TRUE Freedom is at the core of all arts, and true freedom is always revolutionary. It always questions dominant values.

-if your music would be used as a movie soundtrack, what kind of movie would it be? do you like the idea?

It would be a dark dystopian art film of sorts, with some abstract slapstick black comedy tendencies and supernaturally evil undercurrents. Maya Deren meets Buster Keaton in a John Carpenter dystopia set in a dark finnish forest.
Wait, that actually sounds like a documentary on modern society. We'd like to be on a soundtrack for a GOOD movie, yes.

-do you think of something sound / interesting about Seremonia or Kristalliarkki that is never mentionned in reviews or interviews?

Many people seem to get what we are doing and where we are coming from quite accurately, especially outside Finland. Those who don't get it, usually dislike the stuff we really like about us. So I'd like to point out that it's the little things that are ”weird”, ”off” or ”wrong” about our music are the things that actually make it interesting and SUPERB. Same goes for pretty much all my favorite music. There's got be an element of strangeness, an element of surprise.

-what about working with Svart records, how did you get in contact with them?

We send them the recordings for our first album, and they wanted to release it. Same has happened with the two later albums and hopefully will happen with many albums in the future.
Svart is of course a great label, re-issueing great old stuff on vinyl and releasing good new music. Also, the record company guys don't bother us with useless music business jargon, which might be the case with some ”bigger” and more business oriented labels. And if it weren't for Svart, I don't think our music would have reached hardly any ears outside Finland, so they are effective ”business” wise, too. Thanks, Svart!

-which evolution would you like to see for underground music in the future?

It would be nice if the music I like would be on the radio or tv or whatever, but the thing with interesting underground action is that it is underground action. The mainstream eventually devours every new idea, but only in a dilluted, more entertaining form. Therefore you can hear things like krautrock influences on some current mainstream pop music, but a record like Guru Guru's Hinten will always sound too weird or too subversive for mass consumption. So I guess D.I.Y. music will continue to exist like it always did. Which is fine with me.
I'm not worried about the evolution of it either, there's a billion things happening everywhere. Maybe the recent internet era has made it too easy to exactly copy any spesific thing, like form a band that plays ONLY stuff that sound EXACTLY like 1994 death metal from Göteborg or Senegalian kora rock fusion from 1966, but I'm sure people will get over that aspect of it soon. Of course if you start to mix 94 swedish death with 66 kora from Senegal, then you may be on to something.

-do you play live? if so what's your approach to it? are you leaving a space for improvisation?

We enjoy playing live and do improvise quite a lot. We don't try to copy the recorded versions so every show ends up being a little different. Usually there's longer jam parts on many of the songs compared to the album versions. But we are no Grateful Dead, I'd say we're a psychedelic PUNK band in essence, especially live.

-what is planned for Seremonia in the coming months?

A few shows in Finland, probably some recordings for the fourth album too. We got many rocking riffs and interesting ideas ready for the next couple of albums.

-something to add?

Thanks for the interview! Hail seitan, tofu and soy sausages!

mardi 22 septembre 2015

Destruction unit - Negative feedback resistor (2015)

This one is rawer and wilder than most stuff released by Sacred bone records. This new album from Destruction unit, called Negative feedback resistor sounds a bit like Black flag drenched in feedback, played with a loose feel reminding The Stooges, and with some post-punk and psychedelia bringing a bit of melodies and eeriness. This is punk fighting with noise rock and following some dark acid trip to hell. Obviously this is really good, evoking the fell of freedom and danger rock'n'roll should always have.

The Bandcamp page.

lundi 14 septembre 2015

God harvest - Insulated (2015)

When I'm in need of some intensely aggressive music, grind-punk is my favourite prescription. So I'm really pleased when I discover a band like God harvest, with their new album Insulated, their first one (after a demo and a split). They play some good grind-punk, bordering crust but more dynamic and aggressive. Punk enough, extreme enough, with a good balance of d-beat and blasts, mid-tempo and accelerations, with elements tasting like some good ol' school death metal (really old school I mean, think Master more than Cannibal corpse). Ah the simple pleasures of life! This is exactly the kind of music I dig when it comes to metal / hardcore related stuff. Another cool band from the floridian scene.

Their BC page

Their Blog

jeudi 10 septembre 2015

Antigama - The insolent (2015)

The insolent is the seventh full lenght album of polish grinders Antigama. And this is truly a masterpiece in "math grind". They're often described as "cyber grind" and there is indeed a futuristic element in their sound, but they have a "real" drummer and I think "math grind" is more fitting to describe their music. Grind with sophisticated rythmic patterns and song structures. There's the "mathy" side of their music but it's still grind, even reminding Napalm death, but the most forward thinking Napalm death pushed even forward. There's diversity and surprises in the songs but also in the album, with faster shorter songs and  longer ones with slower, sometimes also more melodic, parts. Unlike many "math" or "technical"rock / metal bands you don't get lost and disconnect after a few songs, they manages to stay "catchy" and at the same time very intense throughout the whole album. A very satisfying album. To be honest I wasn't that much into their music up to now, but I really dig this album and it makes me want to rediscover the rest of their discography. The album is released by Selfmadegod records.

The Bandcamp page.

mardi 8 septembre 2015

ATILA - V (2015)

ATILA is the solo electro project of Miguel Béco, from Portugal, who also plays Black metal with ÖRÖK. V is (you guessed!) its fifth album and its best (Signal rex is releasing it). This is dark ambient / noise industrial soundscapes with witch house like synth and beats going from nearly dub / drum to techno. As usually in electro music there is a progression in the album with the beats getting more present int he music, but the dark noisy atmsophere stays king to the end. This is a strong, very well crafted album, that people into dark electro / noise will easily dig but that can also appeal to the metalheads that likes dark atmospheric stuff.

The Bandcamp page

samedi 5 septembre 2015

Goya - Obelisk (2015)

The new Goya album, their second, called Obelisk, is still heavily influenced by Electric wizard. That been said it's really well done and if you don't consider at all originality this is an excellent album. I think it's most consistent than their Ep Satan's fire, and more interesting than their first album, 777 (which was already really good in the Electric wizard worship) because it's less one-sided, especially thanks to two tracks in the middle of the album, the excellent acoustic "300 eyes" and "The sun" with it's faster pace. They really should do it more often. With the acoustic one they really manage to keep their ominous and dark psychedelic vibe and the fastest song is really rocking and brings a welcome change of tempo, breathing new life in the flow of the album. So i'd say the most striking moments is when they try something different, I don't mean that the rest of the album is not really good, but in my opinion they definitely should keep on experimenting different formulas and find their own way into the realm of dark heavy psychedelia.

The Bandcamp page

jeudi 3 septembre 2015

Adversarial - Death, endless nothing and the black knife of nihilism (2015)

Adversarial is one of those "occult" death metal bands (along with Mithochondrion, Portal, Antediluvian, etc.), they are from Canada (Toronto more precisely) and their second and nex album, released by Dark descent records, is called Death, endless nothing and the black knife of nihilism. What I like with this album is that we get the evil and chaotic feel that is the trademark of this "occult death metal" scene but we also get the old school riffing (with a chaotic and evil twist but not buried under a muddy and too much dissonant sound). Maybe we could say their are closer to a more chaotic Immolation than to Portal. Nothing groundbreaking but a well done and enjoyable death metal album.

The Bandcamp page.