NAEVUS – Backsaddling 7″EP (Pre Order Now!)

NAEVUS - Backsaddling 7" EP

NAEVUS (All)

NAEVUS – Backsaddling 7″EP (4iB009)

Side A
1. Up a Hill
2. Aria/Acqua

Side B
1. Listing Instincts
2. Ego

Details:

– 7″ in Gatefold Cardboard Sleeve
– Limited Edition 200 Copies
– Individually Numbered (Vinyl, Sleeve and Cover Sticker)

PRE-ORDER PRICE (Excl. Shipping): USD14.99 / €12 / £9.50
To Purchase, Please email: gerald@4ibrecords.com

Naevus has often been closely associated with the neofolk/darkfolk genre, but this 7″ release attests much more to that perception by demonstrating the versatility and diverse influence of the band. In this current lineup comprising Lloyd James, Ben McLees and Hunter Barr, the 4 tracks in Backsaddling draw from a wide variety of musical influences ranging from industrial; as a narrative intro that revisits a passage in time in ‘Up A Hill’, intermixed with frontman Lloyd James’s neofolk vocal style with further accompaniment of acoustic elements in ‘Listing Instincts’, and finally infused with electronics and progressive post punk melodies of infectious guitar twangs and bass riffs in ‘Aria/Acqua’ & ‘Ego’.

The tracks are well written and harmoniously arranged that they defy a static genre definition. This can be attributed to Lloyd James’s extensive exposure to acts from across all genres and styles by being an active contributor in the music circle. Other than performing as a solo acoustic artist, Lloyd has been a prolific participant in many other experimental, post industrial, post punk and neofolk bands as a guest vocalist, percussionist and guitarist. Some of them include Knifeladder, Kirlian Camera, Sol Invictus, Sorrow/Rose McDowall, Sieben, Albin Julius & Friends, Andrew King, While Angels Watch, Fire + Ice, Mushroom’s Patience and more. Hence, be expected to discover the remnants of these acts being reinvented, rehashed and re-presented in a unique combination of genres in a style that is uniquely Naevus.

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> Enter The Furnace: SCOTT Walker Interviewed (A Quietus Interview By John Doran)

John Doran meets the inimitable 30th Century Man to discuss Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))) and front runner for album of the year

“When Richard Strauss conducted his opera Salome on May 16, 1906, in the Austrian city of Graz, several crowned heads of European music gathered to witness the event. The premiere of Salome had taken place in Dresden five months earlier, and word had got out that Strauss had created something beyond the pale – an ultra-dissonant biblical spectacle, based on a play by an Irish degenerate whose name was not mentioned in polite company, a work so frightful in its depiction of adolescent lust that imperial censors had banned it from the Court Opera in Vienna.” – Alex Ross from The Rest Is Noise

If people had been outraged by Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé with its implicit references to necrophilia and incest; as the basis of his “ultra-dissonant” opera, Strauss leant on and amplified these themes to help create a massive succès de scandale that simultaneously shocked, delighted and disgusted contemporary Austrian society. But it was a success that doubtlessly overshadowed his musical innovation.

Over a century later, the second track on Scott Walker and Sunn O)))’s outstanding album Soused – ‘Herod 2014′ – revisits The Bible to retell an even more disturbing story: that of the King of Judea (Salome’s grandfather) and his campaign of mass infanticide. As moving and as brilliant as this track is – and it is moving and brilliant – it demonstrates how the potential of art to create controversial shock and awe has all but vanished. How could a listener be dismayed by this ancient tale of terrible violence done in the Middle East – or the sonic shroud it is presented in – when just a click away on YouTube there is footage of aid workers and journalists being beheaded in Syria and families being decimated in the Gaza Strip for all to see.

Art’s ability to scandalise can no longer keep pace with modern information media’s unflinching gaze on the genuine brutality of 21st Century life (this theme is explored in more depth in an excellent essay on Soused by Dan Franklin which will be published on tQ next week). This of course should be viewed as a Good Thing as it has actually freed the modern artist from 20th Century shackles, rather than made their job harder. (If only once powerfully influential celebrities such as Morrissey and Damien Hirst could understand that they have been liberated from the need to be controversial; if only they could realise that the insistence on sticking with old modes of behaviour simply makes them look repugnant, conservative and out of date rather than subversive.)

In his hugely influential 1936 essay The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction (Or Reproducibility) Walter Benjamin said that the ubiquity of art caused by modern technology had liberated it from subservience to ritual and allowed it to assume a political role. Now that art has been liberated (essentially and for the most part) from the need and the ability to outrage, it is now also genuinely free to be judged more on aesthetic, artistic and political criteria rather than merely by the column inches it has the potential to generate. As time progresses, those who pursue controversy purely for the sake of promotion will only look more and more out of touch. Those that haven’t been exposed already will reveal themselves to be charlatans.

This is not to say that Soused doesn’t shock in other ways. It really does. There is the initial rush… the initial blast of hearing it loud… Holy shit! It’s Scott Walker and Sunn O))) – it’s actually real and not just some torrid dream I had! But the transition from an initially violent state of novelty to one of deep appreciation is smooth and luxurious. Yeah, Soused is a mind blowing first listen but it’s the keeper of all keepers as well. The aesthetic, the (spiritual and philosophical) weight of the music and the outlier nature of the work that both Scott Walker and Sunn O))) produce are both weirdly complimentary and very similar by turns even though in strict musical terms they could barely be more different from one another. And this is followed by the thrilling aftershock of counter intuition – the realisation that this bizarre, dreamlike combination of heavyweight musical talents has resulted in probably the most accessible thing that Scott Walker has produced since his tracks on Nite Flights (and it is certainly Sunn O)))’s most accessible album full stop).

The title is apt, with its reference to ritual submersion in liquid, drunkenness and pickling not to mention its status as an archaic term for assault. The term ‘soused’ of course reflects Sunn O)))’s atmosphere disrupting drone metal, which is as impactful as always, its effectiveness not blunted for being used sparingly in relative terms. (Stephen O’Malley told me a few weeks ago that when they arrived at Westpoint, they brought with them so much amplification that they couldn’t fit it all into the studio. But they fitted enough inside for the job and he described the session as feeling like it was “cracking the physical space wide open with electrical energy”.) Scott Walker and Peter Walsh’s stately production job has perhaps burnished the colossal drones but not hampered their efficacy.

Of course it’s hard to judge after such a short amount of time but the words to these tracks feel like the best lyrics that Walker has produced. Sure, they lack some of the labyrinthine/T.S. Eliot setting a cryptic crossword ferocity of those on Bisch Bosch but fundamentally they’re more enjoyable to listen to and revel in. A comparable switch would be reading The Wasteland and then The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock. Take ‘Herod 2014′ for example, which is ostensibly about a mother hiding her firstborn from the king’s terrible edict:

“She’s hidden her babies away

“Their soft gummy smiles
won’t be gilding the menu.

“The deer fly, the sand fly
the tsetse can’t find them.

“The goon from the Stasi
is left far behind them.

She’s hidden her babies away.

The potential to further explore Herod’s slaughter of the first born is ignored, thankfully, in favour of a different kind of horror, one that is hard won and slow to reveal itself. And one that is explored with an efflorescence of vivid imagery:

“She’s hidden her babies away

“And why bring them out
with no shelter on offer.

“The nurseries and creches
are heaving with lush lice.

“Bubonic, blue-blankets,
run ragged with church mice.

“The Havana has died
in the clam-shell ashtray.

“She’s hidden her babies away.”

And by the time we get to the ‘punchline’ – his vision is revealed as a retreat away from reality. A retreat away from sanity. A retreat away from existence itself. This horror is pure shock not schlock and Lovecraftian in its intensity:

“A R-e-a-c-h-i-n-g L-o-n-g A-r-m-e-d
vet ape
feeling hard
for a breech birth.

“I gaze up at the night,
at the asterisk’s blazing,

“till they straighten,
and like tiny spines,
fall to earth.

“I bite down on this,
as I dance
and I pray.

“She’s hidden her babies away.”

That Soused exists is, on its own, cause for celebration. That it exists and is brilliant is cause, in my opinion, for the declaration of a new national holiday.

I met up with Scott Walker last week at his managers’ West London home.

First of all I wanted to congratulate you on your poker face because when I was sat in this very same chair in December 2012, interviewing you about Bish Bosch I was actually wearing a Sunn O))) T shirt and I asked you some questions about drone metal and black metal. You said you were aware of these genres and discussed them briefly with me but of course behind the scenes you’d been talking to Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) for a couple of years by that point.

Scott Walker: I’d been talking to them but not literally. We’d been sending messages back and forth. I was thinking about the project then, yeah.

When did Sunn O))) first get in touch with you?

SW: In 2009. It was for Monoliths + Dimensions but I couldn’t do it – not because I didn’t want to but because I wasn’t available, I was working on something else at the time. They wanted something written and sung and I just didn’t have the time. So that was the first time.

Did they send you a scratch demo of the track ‘Alice’?

SW: They did. I don’t remember what the track was called but yes they did. They asked me if I could write something for it and sing it.

Had you heard the band before?

SW: No.

Did you explore what the group sounded like?

SW: They sent me all of their CDs and I listened to nearly all of them – simply because I really liked them. And that’s when I became aware of them.

There’s a slogan that’s printed on a lot of their records which reads: “Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results”. Did you acquiesce to their dictat and did you give them a good rinse?

SW: Yes. We’re all volume freaks. Even before this record we have always recorded guitars at a very high volume in the studio but of course it was never anything like Soused. We even mix very loud, which is very unfashionable.

After you couldn’t work with them on Monoliths + Dimensions when did the first germ of the idea for Soused happen?

SW: I think the last time we spoke, I told you what a trial it was making the last record not because of being in the studio but because of the gaps between everything. And it literally drove Pete [Walsh, musical director] and I insane… I was thinking that I would love to make a record faster and with continuity and reduce everything. Get rid of the cast of thousands and take it down to the basics. And the basic in music is the drone. So I thought, ‘Well, it’s a reductive exercise.’ And then I thought of those guys and the drones. So I sent them an email via the record company and said, ‘Look if I’m going to do this are you interested… if I write these songs do you want to be part of it?’ They said yes they were so I said, ‘Well, I’ll get on with it then.’

Whether it’s avant garde or extreme or mainstream heavy metal – is this a genre that you’ve not really paid that much attention to in the past or is it something you’ve been moderately aware of?

SW: Moderately aware of. Yeah. And I’ve always liked it. And I’ve always thought, ‘My sound could work with this.’ And so it was really a case of who to pick to work with.

And I don’t want to state the obvious but it feels to me like what Sunn O))) do and what you have done over the last four albums might not be in the same genre and might not sound formally alike but aesthetically, philosophically and spiritually they have a lot in common don’t they?

SW: Yeah. It’s the weight of it. Because it’s not like working with a band which would be boring to me when it’s just like four or five guys playing. I either wanted to do something very big or very small. If you look at the last track on my last few albums it’s just me and it’s quite small or otherwise it’s a cast of thousands. They were a great compromise in that way because of the weight they have. I mean they’re so loud. When we recorded them [laughs] it was shockingly loud. We’d go into the studio and… ha ha ha! We all had to wear earplugs. The first day we heard it – that brought new meaning to the phrase ‘guitar levels’.

I believe that when Sunn O))) turned up to Wespoint in London, they brought so much amplification that they couldn’t fit all of it into the studio, which is almost worthy of a Spinal Tap storyline.

SW: I know. It was ridiculous. But thankfully enough of it fitted in. It was just perfect for what I wanted to do.

Was Peter Walsh at the receiving end of the guitar onslaught?

SW: [nodding] Because he’s miking things up. Yeah. [laughs] So he started wearing earplugs pretty quickly and so did Mark [Warman, Musical Director]. And then everyone started wearing earplugs. But you can feel it right up through your knees, it’s such a weird thing. And funnily enough when I was standing right in the centre of it, it didn’t bother me but when you first go into the room it’s like entering a furnace… a furnace of sound.

Did you find it interesting that they obviously had a pedigree for working with very distinctive vocalists such as Attila Csihar of Mayhem and Julian Cope?

SW: I thought their sound would be complimentary to my voice but whichever vocalists they had working with them before I had really no interest in that, that didn’t influence me at all. I was just thinking what I could do with them and what I could bring to the project. So that wasn’t a consideration.

Stephen O’Malley told me that he was blown away by the scratch demos that you sent to him and Greg; that they revealed that you completely understood how their music worked. To what extent did you have to shift your own compositional sense or perspective around in order to incorporate their noise – because, let’s face it, they do create a very intrusive noise.

SW: Well, it’s all about where you place everything – that’s the most important thing. Where you place the vocal with the guitars and any other noises you use. But in a sense because it was reductive I wasn’t having to worry about, or to be concerned with, harmony so much. I could get a really primal noise which is what I was really after anyway. So in one sense it was harder because I had to be aware that I needed more space but in another sense it was also easier.

So normally you work with different, talented musicians and even though they’re in demand and some of them are famous in their own right, they are very much your band. Did it change anything working with an outside unit who were already a band in their own right and in possession of a very long recording history of their own?

SW: Let me say that it was an absolute pleasure, the whole thing. It was really… I’d never met them before, we’d never spoken, we just turned up at the studio. I thought it was the best way to do it. So I thought, ‘If it’s going to be an ugly surprise, it’s going to be an ugly surprise and everyone can just go away and try and forget about it.’ But I like that. I like the risk factor involved in something like this because I didn’t know what was going to happen. But they were an absolute pleasure and everyone got on perfectly. They were serious about what they did but they were funny as well. They were so aware of their sound and how it evolves. And very particular about their sound.

So Sunn O))) weren’t there for the whole album were they? It was recorded in a couple of different stages.

SW: Yeah it was. They were with us for a week. And then they went and we carried on but we had continuity to it which is what we wanted.

How quick was it compared to Bish Bosch?

SW: Because we didn’t have to wait for big studios for strings and other studios for other things it was much quicker. We used a big studio for a couple of things: the drums and the whips. We got my friend Pete The Whipper down from Bristol to record the whips. Peter Gamble is the bullwhip champion of Great Britain. He came down on the train with nine bullwhips and we recorded all of them at the big studio. Some of them are about three metres long. He had them from Australia, from America. We settled on the American whip – the real bullwhip. He was amazing. He could crack two at the same time. We have a video of him. He throws axes as well. And do you know what his day job is? Health and safety. [laughs] That cracks me up. We had Sunn O))) for a week and we worked so well and so concentratedly that we had nearly a day left over in studio time. So we were really cooking.

The songs on Soused are very different to those on Bish Bosch, they’re a lot less complex in compositional terms. They’re more song-like songs. Was this due to having to work with this very powerful, primal Sunn O))) sound or was it just something you were aiming for?

SW: No, I started writing and it just kind of unfolded that way – in this kind of slightly more traditional way. Actually, I don’t think ‘Fetish’ fits that mould but I know what you’re saying. It was just as I was arranging them, that’s how they came. And my main thing was I had to leave space for the drones to happen, so there had to be plenty of room for them to unfold, work and happen. I couldn’t squeeze things together like in a traditional song.

So, can you tell me about ‘Brando’. The lyrics suggest that it’s named after the actor.

SW: Yes. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the songs but as you know I don’t want to go too far down that road because once you become too detailed about a song it ruins whatever it is that it has. But I can tell you a few things… I was watching One Eyed Jacks on television one night. And I know all of his films really well and I like them. But I thought to myself, ‘Hey, he must have it written into his contract that he has to get beaten up in the films he’s in.’ In One-Eyed Jacks he gets tied to a post and beaten by Karl Malden with a bullwhip. In The Chase he gets beaten to a pulp by the local town vigilantes. In Reflections In A Golden Eye, he gets repeatedly beaten across the face with a riding crop by Elizabeth Taylor. There’s On The Waterfront of course… In The Appaloosa as well. In The Wild One he gets beaten up by vigilantes. He must have had it written into his contract.

There’s an undeniably sado-masochistic, sexual element to this…

SW: Yeah. It’s a song of unfulfilled longing. A song of masochistic longing.

When I first heard the album I naturally presumed that Sunn O))) had just done the drones but Stephen told me that they’d actually done all of the guitar parts.

SW: They did all the guitar stuff.

This is the most formally varied album that Sunn O))) have done, in the terms of the guitars, so was there a discussion about getting them to use different styles?

SW: The original email I sent said, ‘If you guys just want to concentrate on the drones I’ll get one of my guys to do all the lead stuff.’ But they got back to me and said, ‘We’d like to have a go at all of it.’ They did. Tos [Nieuwenhuizen, auxiliary member of Sunn O)))] was great. He played quite a lot of [the lead guitar]. He has a natural feel for the lead guitar. He has a wonderful groove feel and everything he does sits right in the pocket. I didn’t know who he was when he turned up though. I thought, ‘Who is this guy? Is he their tech?’ But they were like, ‘No he plays [in Sunn O)))] as well.’ And he was really great.

There are all sorts of guitar styles on there aren’t there? There are some real classic rock flourishes on ‘Brando’, the kind that almost wouldn’t be out of place on a Guns N’Roses track but then these are counterbalanced by the dreadful rumble, the heavy drone industrial bass lines and some no wave, atonal chords as well.

SW: If it gets too Guns N’Roses you want to stop that though, and replace it with something else! [laughs]

Can you outline Peter Walsh’s role in the recording and tell me if it varied much from his role on previous recordings?

SW: His role wasn’t really that different to how it has been in the past. I just rely on him to get the best recording we can get. Where he was really great was in the mixing stage because he has so much on his hands and I’m always in and out trying to get everything shaped. But he’s always there with suggestions. But in the mixing stage he was brilliant on this record. This record was such a contrast to the last one and this time everything went right. It almost painted itself. Everything we tried worked. I tried to sabotage it at one point but I couldn’t do it. I would come up with an idea but had to say, ‘That sounds great!’ It didn’t matter what I threw at it. I kept on trying to knock it off course but everything we did worked.

What were the responses from everyone on your team when they were first placed in this crucible of drone metal?

SW: Well Mark was shocked but then he always is because he’s from the world of musical theatre. [laughs] When we did The Drift with him he’d come straight from doing a musical. He was a replacement for a guy that we had before and he walked into this situation with all the meat punching and all of that and for him it was like walking into a nightmare. But then he settled in and he’s been brilliant ever since. And whatever we do now – like I said last time, even if we drive cattle through the studio – he’ll cope. He’ll pick it up.

Did you go through a number of choices before you settled on Soused as the title?

SW: I had two potential names and I sent them off to Stephen because he designed the cover and all that. I sent through “Ronronner” which is the French word for purr. You know, like the noise a big cat would make but he said that French would read that as too cute. So I came up with Soused.

I don’t think Stephen and Greg will mind me saying that they like a drink or two but what about you? Aren’t you teetotal?

SW: Oh no! Not at all. I don’t drink as much as I used to. I’m more of a weekend drinker now. The name has a few meanings but the one meaning being submersed in water, that’s the one we were after.

This might sound like a strange question but did Sunn O))) push you outside of your comfort zone. I say strange because someone listening to your last few records might be forgiven for presuming that you don’t have a comfort zone.

SW: Yeah, I push myself out of my comfort zone. [laughs] Well, yes, but only in the sense that they sound different so I had to make what I do work with that and that’s always a challenge. But once we started doing it, it was great.

What aspect of this project did you get the most intrinsic pleasure out of?

SW: Experiencing them first when I first heard them in the studio. It was like… [whistles] I thought, ‘This is either going to work or it’s going to be fucking awful. And mixing it was great as well.

Is it inevitable that people are going to draw a comparison between the recent occurrences in the Middle East, with the beheadings by ISIS and the song ‘Herod 2014’?

SW: It might be inevitable but I wrote it before these things started happening. Whatever associations people have after listening to this song, that’s fine. I’m happy for people to bring whatever they want to the work but I didn’t have that in my mind.

I was thinking earlier today about how shocking ‘Herod 2014’ compared to the opera Richard Strauss produced based on the Oscar Wilde version of Salomé with all of its suggestions of necrophilia and incest. Is it pretty much impossible for an artist to shock their audience in terms of subject matter these days and is it even your job to shock your audience any more?

SW: That used to be the case. It was definitely in people’s heads to try and shock especially in the modernist period. I just work in my own sound world now though. I’ve established a sound world and developed certain tropes and things that I understand now. The track starts with a bell, which is really a representation of the female in the song. But the bell is submerged in the song, you can barely hear it but it’s keeping a pulse and hiding away in the track and you only hear it appear at the very end again. There is a noise at the beginning, a kind of wah wah wah noise – that’s taken from a recording that gets played to babies in the womb. It’s a white noise sound that’s meant to keep them tranquil. It’s meant to keep them really tranquil but the fucking thing is really loud, I don’t know how it works! It’s a scary noise and there are things like that placed here and there in the track.

I think the lyrics to this album work as poetry. And maybe you could say that about the lyrics to Bish Bosch but that would be a different kind of verse – more fractured, modernist, hyper-condensed and full of allusion whereas the lyrics to Soused I think you could take intrinsic pleasure from the luxurious use of language and how the words have been juxtaposed. It simply has a more intrinsic lyrical quality to my ears. Did these lyrics come easier to you?

SW: Some of them did. On Bish Bosch there’s not so much rhyming so you have to make everything count in itself. So when you’re rhyming it makes everything easier. On a song like ‘Herod 2014’ a lot of it rhymes so it’s fun to write because the combinations of words are fun to work out. But it’s hard as well. I didn’t do this with all the songs though and on ‘Fetish’ I go off on a Bish Bosch tangent. I go off into a scheme with no rhyming. It all takes time but this was faster than I thought it was going to be.

Is it more fun for you to write in this way that it is to write for Bish Bosch?

SW: Yes because I’m dealing with fewer forces simultaneously. On Bish Bosch I was constantly having to match the lyrics to other forces. I was constantly having to think, ‘What am I going to do with the strings here that hasn’t been done before to make the phrase really kick – to make these words really stand out? What’s the noise for this lyric?’ And I had a long list of things that needed to be dealt with. Here I could get freer with the lyric writing.

Soused is unusually melodic for both you and Sunn O))) – does this mark a movement away from the more atonal style of Bish Bosch or is it more of a ring-fenced project?

SW: People are funny about saying side-project now aren’t they? Everyone has come to hate that term. But that is how Soused actually started. I think the idea of it being more melodic is the actual surprise of it. When people read that we were going to do this record I think what they expected was a lot of drones and some incoherent shit… you know what I mean… some screaming buried in the background. But I think the great surprise of it is that it is as it is now. And that’s what makes it more far out.

Can you tell me about the use of Latin on the track ‘Bull’ – you’ve got the term “Custodient migremus” – which means “keep moving on” and you’ve also got several terms which roughly translate as the occurrence of pain… restless pain… sinful pain… why is this?

SW: The idea of the song is it’s a crusade. There are a lot of crusade images in it. It’s a crusade against existence itself. I was trying to go back to the crusades so I started going back to Latin for that reason itself. My Latin pronunciation is terrible but Pete’s son, who is about nine or ten, speaks perfect Latin. So we phoned him up in Germany and asked him to pronounce all the words down the phone for me. You can hear his little voice right at the beginning of the track from where we recorded the phone conversation.

Will Soused influence what you do next? Even though everything you’ve done for the last few decades has been markedly distinct from each other, there is also a through line and one record seems to influence the next.

SW: I don’t know because I haven’t started thinking about it yet. I’ve had a kind of strange year because I’ve got several projects but none of them have quite panned out yet. They’re in the mix but nothing to do with recording another record. So I’m kind of in that space at the moment.

Now I wasn’t going to ask this originally but there was a clue on the official 4AD website which made me change my mind. On the Soused website there are tabs which read ‘news’, ‘video’ and ‘live’. So are there going to be live shows?

SW: I haven’t seen what you’re looking about but then I never look at the website so that could be why… Erm… Stephen and I brushed on this and we all want to see what’s going to happen with the album.

But you’re not saying no.

SW: We’re not saying no but we want to see what the reaction will be, to see if it’s strong enough to make a consideration of it.

But if the reaction is strong enough then you’ll be looking for a venue that’s nice enough and well equipped enough to reproduce this kind of sound?

SW: Yeah. Oh yeah… Oh yeah.

Can you tell me about ‘Fetish’, the least standard track on the album?

SW: It’s about fetishising objects… but it’s one of the songs I kind of want to skate around really because I like to have people work that out for themselves.

Ok, well, Scott-watchers will already know the last track on the album ‘Lullaby’ as a version of ‘Lullaby (by by by)’ which you wrote for Ute Lemper in the late 1990s and which appeared as a bonus track to the Japanese version of her LP Punishing Kiss.

SW: That’s right. I wrote it in 1999.

Ok, well, her version of this song is already fantastic. Why revisit it?

SW: It’s because the song is one of the only songs… in a sense, in a very superficial sense, the song is about assisted suicide. That was in the air back then but now it’s really in the air. So I thought, ‘We could do a great version of this song. I’ll just rearrange it for us.’ So I chopped away at it and changed it. And it worked. Like everyone I know, I am torn about this subject. I understand the problem and why some people want it but I’m very frightened about the idea of people engineering our deaths in a technological way. That’s the bothering thing about it to me. So that’s why I recorded it because it’s a current issue but then again it’s also one of those timeless subjects. It’s absolutely brutal, especially in the “Lullaby lullaby” section where I’m absolutely screaming it so there’s no vocal quality at all in it. It’s not a quiet lullaby it’s an absurd lullaby because I’m shouting it.*

Do you find it in anyway upsetting or draining to sing this track?

SW: Erm… it was in some ways but when I have that great track that Sunn O))) did… I did it in one take and I just love what we did with it. That was one of the tracks where Greg was coming back in while I was trying to get it right and he would say, ‘Oh God, that sounds like shit.’ And then I found a way with them to make it sit but then it worked. I guess that was the only one where we had a bit of a glitch.

What are some of the instances of on the fly studio innovation that you used?

SW: Oh, there are so many examples… There’s that middle section in ‘Fetish’ where the guitars go [hums Suicide-like riff] and I wasn’t liking that. So finally I was on the floor with the ring modulators and everything else because it wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t darkly funny enough. And then it worked and then Greg went crazy and shouted, ‘You nailed it man!’ It’s interesting working with Americans because I never usually work with them. Not for nearly 50 years. He’s a funny guy though. So polite.

You’ll have to watch it if you do play live with them in case they make you put on the robes…

SW: [laughs] That is definitely OUT!

When was the last time you wrote lyrics autobiographically?

SW: Oh God… the 60s probably.

You always say, ‘I’m not going to leave it so long until the next record.’ And then, to be fair to you, last time after Bish Bosch you really didn’t leave it that long. I know you’ve said that things aren’t coming together for a new record just yet but what do you have in the pipeline that you can talk about?

SW: I’m doing a film soundtrack. I’m going to start one. But the thing is there are contractual issues going on. Not to do with me but to do with other people involved with the movie. So it’s been on and off and on and off. But it should start sometime this year.

Presumably you won’t want it to last as long as Pola X did.

SW: Oh God no. No. But listen, the contract stage of the film already has lasted longer than Pola X.

Well, I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed hearing the album. It was an amazing idea and even better in practice.

SW: Thank you.

[*A few hours after the interview, Scott's manager forwarded me the following email:

Hey John

Just a small detail that I forgot to mention regarding LULLABY that might be of help. The reason for quoting some of the William Byrd song "My Sweet little Darling" is because the English language is considered to be the technological language.

Good Luck.

Scott.]

(Source: http://thequietus.com/articles/16411-scott-walker-interview-sunn-o-soused)

> LUMB’S SISTER by Chris Wallis (Short Version)

> IRM – Wroclaw Industrial Festival (9 Sept 2013)

> GRUNT

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Grunt was formed in Finland during spring 1993 to create hard audio havoc. Its early incarnations operated with few other names, before settling into Grunt and making the first officially published works. After 20 years of activity, it is still going strong. Various styles of noise electronics are always hammered with such pressure it usually transforms into known Grunt-noise, even if new methods and approaches are added. Various interests, moods and approaches and different kinds of topics has been used during the years. Strong visuals and lyrics are the most well known to people.

Since early days, Grunt has been merely part of international power electronics-noise scene. There has never been desire to attract attention widely. There has never been attempts to be credible within academic noise circles, performance art or modern industrial culture. Nor promote it in media outside the core of noise-underground. However, neither there is clear desire to follow genre restrictions. When invitations have happened, Grunt has been featured in documentaries, newspaper articles, playing together with punk, metal and gothic bands as well as among performance art events.

Grunt is tightly connected to the vision of Freak Animal Records label and has also handful of other forms, what can be understood as projects of their own or simply branches slightly separated from the main project.

1993

Early years of Grunt was trying different kinds of directions. Earliest recordings was created by merely tuning down guitar strings until they were hanging loose over the guitar microphones and making rumbling noises. Lack of any kind of effects or even amplifiers made noise the most simple and primitive wall of rumbles. Early on, it was created by borrowed equipment. Lacking possibilities to experiment and test due short periods of time equipment was available. Third release, “Industrial Madness?” (Autumn 1993), various metal objects were included in making tracks. Often rhythmic industrial noise with low tuned string abuse, radio-noise, vocals, metal junk noises. Still some musical elements were tried, influenced by industrial bands like Godflesh or Einstürzende Neubauten. Half of the material remains unbearably clumsy, yet traits of what is about to come could be heard.

Early on, I had very little knowledge of noise as “scene” or “phenomena”. Early days of Grunt were influenced by the bigger names, such as mentioned Godflesh, Einstürzende Neubauten, live video footage of Swans, and Finnish punk-scene originating noise mongers who had just published their debut works in 1991/1992: Bizarre Uproar and Unseen Noise Death.

1994

Various recordings approaching the sound from a “band” perspective was made at the same time while experimenting also as solo. There exist recordings which were clumsy industrial percussion with guitars and bass playing with clear instrument sound. There was also more noisecore influenced materials, which both were bound to be left aside. In this period of not even fully knowing what exactly should be done, there was no idea who could be interested to even hear these releases. If anyone. These early tapes existed pretty much less than 30 copies made. Strong recollections of shattering this utter outsider feeling still remains in my brain. When writing to publisher of Icy Illusions compilation tape series (Czech Republic) that I would like to publish Grunt 7”, but I doubt there exists people who want noise records, he briefly explained reality is very different. I received letter explaining that in Japan there is actually labels who have put out CDs and even up to 50 titles. This information simply blew my mind and from this moment of receiving addresses of Alchemy Records, GROSS, Endorphine Factory and RRRecords (USA), I knew when next tape is done, I will write everybody and find out all what I can. Until now, I had considered every noise band be utmost anomaly and isolated case.

With the growing serious intentions, later in 1994, new era of sound was introduced. When getting first own multi-track recorder, things started to progress. Simplest possible 4-track tape recorder, with no EQs, no aux, only two lines in. Volume and panning knobs for each channel being only “post production” possibilities. With addition of one cheap plastic microphone and 12W Marshall rehearsal amp, with nothing but enthusiasm and time, things started to take better direction. More experience in making connections with the few devices available resulted creating interesting results, most of all with internal feedback.

Putting situation in context: this was a underage teenage boy living in small town near Russian border, with no information how other people did their works and at this point merely access to few international artists such as Man Is The Bastard and Gerogerigegege. I was utterly clueless about effects as well as didn’t know of existence of devices such as “analogue synthesizer”. I had never seen one and never thought how such sounds are created! Only by accident, I learned that if plugging my cheap package-stereo system in loop with 4-track (4-track output to stereo-in, and stereo headphones to 4-track input) and turning channel panning to left and adjusting graphic equalizer, I could create the sounds I liked.

Sound took direction closer to old power electronics, even if that was hardly conscious intention. Many of the recordings were buzz of electronics and feedback, radio-noise and some with vocals.

“One Animal Above The Others” tape was result of this new direction, and it was mailed to labels I had heard of. As result RRRecords and G.R.O.S.S. replied and while latter was at the time way too expensive to purchase items, RRRecords and especially its recently lauched Pure CD series were instant mindblowing influence. Extensive tape trading offered possibility to quickly educate myself with vast history of genre and in matter of months, situation had moved from being clueless outsider into not only being hungry student of past, but also starting to get in touch with other noise makers – small and bigger.

Still all early recordings came out as cassette tape releases, being distributed in small editions between 15 and 150 copies, most being closer to 50. Many of them went through trading to various small noise artists as well as people from other scenes, who many disappeared from the scene, resulting that hardly anyone currently involved in international noise scene has ever heard the early recordings. In 2012 Industrial Recollections launched project to digitalize all ’90s tape material into CD format which allows whole decade worth of obscurities be heard – often for the first time!

Grunt+Finland

1995-1996

Early 1995 until summer was some of the most productive times of Grunt. Recordings during these times took place, if not daily, then at least weekly basis. 1995 was the time when Grunt slowly started to make more and more connections among the international noise community, with putting out recordings on other people’s labels and getting distributed by well known distributors of the time. It remained relatively low profile still for the upcoming years. Even if being involved with international scene, there was never intention to focus any particular side a la “harsh noise” or “power electronics” scenes, but remain somewhere between, where all the noisy sounds melt together into bizarre mix.

First live show was played in 1995. There was prepared metal object to be amplified and drum machine to create electronic effects, yet utter failures in technical know-how, and last minute changes on stage, led to doing it with traditional instruments and session members: guitar feedback, vocals, drums. Not very successful result caused long break until next attempt to perform live.

Getting introduced to first effect pedals in Summer ‘95, changed approach to the sound. While all 1995 was created with borrowed effects (of Temple Of Tiermes), in winter 1996 I would finally gather enough money to buy large guitar multieffect.

Possibities of multieffect were drastic, and use of heavy delay effect on screaming vocals and abundance of echoing metal junk and droning feedback became traditional Grunt elements what continued for years. To the point of ultimate overdose, one could say. The main influences of the time were taken from Masonna, Gerogerigegege and Ramleh.

In very first releases, my intention was to mix “political” or “social” themes among the music, but for period of time, perhaps by strong influence of Japanese noise, I intentionally rejected “message”. Focus was purely on sound and vocals were aimed to be sonic effect, just like in Masonna, Hijokaidan or Gerogerigegege. I remember writing with contacts abroad, discussing about never-ending topics such importance of content vs. pure sonic content as well as which is more inspiring, the sheer energy of Japanese noise or dark and strong subject matter of power electronics/industrial noise. It seems weird now, that even in some (lost?) ‘zine interview I recall explaining how I try to reject cliches such as porn or violence, because they are done already. While such content actually is the best known side of Grunt’s later works! While releases from ‘93-‘95 dealt with state, religion, death, pollution, waste, junk, military, etc. ‘95-‘97 was slowly bleeding into absurdity some vague weirdness.

1997-2000

From 1997 you can see another clearly new milestone of Grunt. From experimenting simply by terms of what effect results what kind of sound and how to layer things to make it interesting, it felt necessary to move into better constructed recordings. There came need to focus more into planned and composed recordings. All these intentions and approaches bleed over each other in chronology, but 1997 marks the time when Grunt returned back to using lyrics. And not only occasionally, but predominantly.

While in past recordings were never processed from pre-recorded sound, in late ’90s method of creating loops out of pre-recorded source sounds became trademark of Grunt sound. In early days I had obsessive attitude against “pre-recorded” sounds, as if they were not as real as the ones you could create on the spot. I did not manipulate tapes, but create each track from live electronics or physically made sounds.

This new 1997 sound was hardly anything new for Grunt, but simply refined approach which made distinctive difference in typical ‘96 versus typical ‘97 or ‘98 recording. Crushing, heavily repeating loops with near random metal junk noise and feedback on the top, with furious effected vocals and spoken word samples. Those were they key ingredients what perhaps made tapes such as “Europe After Storm”, “Someone Is Watching”, etc. rise above many of low profile Grunt tapes and eventually be re-issued on CDs for wider circulation much earlier than most other ’90s works.

There was never intention to make too similar sounding releases. Grunt is usually labelled as “power electronics noise”, even if that is perhaps just half truth. There is brutal edge of harsh noise and use of different sound sources, what is missing from many of those who rely solely on synthesizers and/or computers. There’s no limit on the sound sources or subject matter what Grunt uses. It always reflects the state of mind of current period of time. Most often intent of diversity of sound would slightly confuse the progression. Musical intent of many releases was to create diversity. Something what you could find most of all from compilations of the ’90s. “Noise Forest”, “Come Again II”, “Dedication”, “Tension State Collapsing”, “Neuengamme”, “Journey Into Pain” and such were often higher influence than individual bands. There was no intent to make releases that were “pure” something, but attempts to build releases where diversity is wide enough to sound almost like compilation. This method has its advantages, but also in reality it meant that there hardly was a REAL album of Grunt released until very late. Bunch of splits, collaborations, sometimes build from tracks of various sessions. First Grunt CD “Perfect World” was pretty much just collection of unrelease yet unrelated tracks what happened to lay around. “Terror And Degeneration” was published in various forms during the years. “Europe After Storm” was solid 30 minutes tape, but when re-issued on CD, live tracks and bonuses were included making it rather compilation than real album. Basically one could say first real recording intended as album of Grunt was “Seer of Decay” as late as 2006!

Perhaps this was also advantage. To me it always appeared that Grunt hardly belonged among “the real noise bands”, let’s say K2, Richard Ramirez, Macronympha and such. But it didn’t stop from co-operations. I also felt with such a random and chaotic approach, Grunt was hardly to be grouped with conceptually and musically solid bands like Genocide Organ, Con-Dom or Brighter Death Now. But also ended up sharing stage with those and operating among same distribution networks. This lack of clear direction allowed to keep moving. Even after bigger profile power electronics CD, Grunt could make follow up as ltd 50 copies harsh noise tape. And it would still make sense – at least to same extent as anything happened in past.

Grunt has hardly ever played with mystery. Project has been so closely related to Freak Animal as label or my works as “journalist” within the genre, it must be obvious Grunt hardly is fruits of actual outsider or isolated “independent” artists. It is without no shame influenced by others, inspired by others and mirroring itself with entire history of genre(s). Grunt never attempted to copy very narrow style, therefore vast amount of influences eventually melt into what is Grunt.

In 1998, seeing Con-Dom perform live in Stockholm, Sweden, was first possibility to see how “noise band” performs live. With failure some years earlier, Con-Dom’s approach of relying heavily on backing tapes and focusing simply on vocals, appeared as only possibility. Especially when sound of 1998 was something what I felt was impossible to re-create on stage. 3 live shows played between 1998-2000 was always based on tape playback, where live vocals and some minor additional electronic noise added live feeling. It took until first offer for gig abroad in 2002 to finally decide to abandon all background tapes and focus on real sound creation in live situation.

By the end of ’90s entire Grunt approach had changed for publishing. It was no longer so important to have releases. It felt more interesting to focus on less, yet more content focused releases. While looking at gaps in discography, it appears as if I stopped making noise in same scale. This is merely illusion. Fact remains turn of millennium spawned vast amount of Grunt related side projects as well as involvements in other bands/projects. And extensive live activity in form of Grunt.

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2001-2004

While most of ’90s works were created in relatively quiet methods, moving into new millenium meant also changes in volume for some releases. Some of this era Grunt recordings (“Last Grip To Sanity”, split LP with Taint and split tape with Strom.ec) have been utilizing loud recording methods. First time also analogue synthesizers were used among other things. Doing studio-live recordings with PA system, and later mastering or editing the final touch. This gives new touch to the sound, compared to material which is created with low volumes by using field recordings, electronics/effects or other such sources.

Some of the processed field recording/sample/vocal based tracks could be heard on V/A “Don’t Hunt What You Can’t Kill” 3xCD, “Hanging high on every streetlamp” card CDr, etc. As opposed to studio-live violent recordings, some of these are very high-tech and crystalline sounding.

Since most of Grunt material is being released quite late after it’s completed (for example most of material released 2000-2003 dates back to ‘97-‘98), it’s hard to pinpoint form what Grunt has in specific moment. For creator and future listener they manifest in entirely different light. For example, big part of most relevant Grunt recordings of 2004 were scattered into split tape, tour compilations and left unreleased until 8 years later finally whole thematically & sonically suitable material was collected as “Long Lasting Happiness” CD. Some of the best recordings of the time remained unheard for nearly decade!

After doing first all-live sound live show in 2002, it was noticed that live situation brings new kind of challenge for creating material. First gigs were still about learning how to manage to create desired sound live, but after 5 shows in 2004 it seemed that right tools and methods had been found.

2005

Early 2005 was released 5 vinyl LPs of Grunt. Half LP versions of stuff what earlier came on CDr. Despite large number of releases, there wasn’t really properly done “album” for Grunt. All solo LP/CD releases have been collections of previously released tape/CDr material, or live recordings.

Grunt did first longer tour, 5 gigs in Japan in April. Also long time first Grunt solo show in Finland. All of these were noisier and more improvised gigs. Same methods were used in UK gigs in late 2004. This allows gigs to be spontaneous, when none of loops or sounds have been prepared in advance. Possibility of failure adds some excitement, and few times due malfunctioning minimal equipment, shows have transformed into full force random harsh noise. For new tour in UK, equipment was stripped down to the absolute minimum, removing all the unnecessary gear. No synthesizers, no samplers, no MD or CD players and so on. Shows were played without backing videos, keeping them short and to the point. Later 2005 followed with couple more live shows and growing amount of new releases, making Grunt look more active than ever before.

2006-2008

Since releasing “Seer of Decay” 2xCD, Grunt avoided any new “major works”, only live recordings on tape format and contributions for small scale releases, compilations etc. Focus of attention was on live shows around the world, and finally in 2009 there was being published 3xCD box set with live documentation of those years, pretty much all the successfully performed (and recorded) gigs from live actions 23 to 41. Few unrecorded gigs do not appear on the box set. This set sums together well the time after album, and upon its release decision was made to fade live activity down in favour of more attention to studio recordings.

2009

“Petturien Rooli” album was completed in September 2009. On and off recording process during three years resulted in most diverse and most experimental mix of Grunt releases so far. Leaving away the previously “obligatory” harsh noise blasts, in favour of more textured and detailed and experimental approach to PE/industrial-noise.

Source sounds and equipment utilised in recording included various metal objects, wood, water, stones, glass, sand, mud, concrete, tools from shovels to lawnmover to cement mixer, metallic pipes (wind instrument), radio transmissions, digital keyboards, analogue synthesizer, analogue walkman with field recordings and tape manipulations, 8-track MD, 4-track analogue tape, digital hard-drive recorder for field recordings, various effects, bass-amp, PA system, guitar-amp…. Extensive research on suitable locations or equipment to produce needed sounds was always done with the wholeness in mind. Sound varied from intentionally damaged and fierce brutality to soundscapes that are carefully EQed and adjusted for maximum range of sonic qualities. Intent was to keep the spirit of old experimental industrial-noise there. Something what was missing from a lot of modern recordings what are ultra compressed and maximally distorted to flat sterility. “Petturien Rooli” album never aimed to compete with volume and join the 0dB maximum compression club. Its dynamic variation goes from quiet to loud, frequencies from highest to deep sub-bass pulses. It could be interesting for fanatics of PE as well as those looking for more experimental edge on sound.

Since “Petturien Rooli”, this direction has only been refined further. For band to exists, it has not been important to make publications, but it exists most of all on theoretical level, but also in form of experiments. Vast amounts of recordings have been done, with no intent to publish them. There has been given attention to extensive equipment as well as stripping down everything to bare minimum. Basically rejecting the dominance of effects, returning back to more rugged and grainy elements known from earliest years.

2012:

Since “Petturien Rooli” CD (2009), there has not been much else than re-issues, live material and few compilation tracks by Grunt. It certainly have not meant anything else than preparation for the new full length assault. 10 tracks abuse diverse approaches. From tape manipulation, crushing loops, classical instruments, deep tones, concrete sounds and dry sonic elements stripped to be bone as well as multi-layered into complex compositions. Grunt pours in loads of different sound elements, different sound qualities and experimentation, yet from other end of meatgrinder emerges the solid mix of ugly power electronics in form of “World Draped In A Camouflage”.

Since publishing “World Draped In A Camouflage”, Grunt has been performing in Finland and abroad (Belgium, UK, Lithuania, Sweden,..) as 2 member unit, playing mostly variations of album tracks.

(Source: http://grunt-finland.tumblr.com/info)

> NAEVUS – Lloyd James Solo Performance at Death Disco, Athens, 19.09.2014

> EARTH: Interview with DYLAN CARLSON on 9/8/2014 at Point Ephémère, Paris

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