NAEVUS – Backsaddling 7″EP (Out 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)

PRICE (Incl. Airmail Shipping from Singapore): USD22.49 / €18 / £14
To Purchase, Please Go Here.

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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> THE HAFLER TRIO – Suitcase Live Event on 4 December 1990

> The Beauty of Noise – An interview with Masami Akita of Merzbow by Chad Hensley – EsoTerra #8, 1999

Merzbow was born in Tokyo in 1981, the bastard son of Masami Akita. Inspired by Dadaism and Surrealism, Akita took the name for his project from German artist Kurt Schwitters’ pre-War architectural assemblage “The Cathedral of Erotic Misery” done in his “merz” style– a confluence of the organic and the geometric. “Merzbau” referred to his houses. Just as Schwitters attacked the entrenched artistic traditions of his time with his revolutionary Avant-garde collages, so too would Akita challenge the contemporary concept of what is called music. Akita would draw further influence from the Futurist movement. Not only would he embrace the Futurists’ love of technology and the machine civilization, but he would push their fondness for noise to the very boundaries of the extreme. Working in his ZDF studio, Akita quickly gained notoriety as a purveyor of a musical genre composed solely of pure, unadulterated noise. Consequently, in 1982 Masami founded the first Noise label, Lowest Music and Arts. He would eventually coin the phrase “Noise Composition” as a description for his sound, and display his pre- recorded Noise via live performances. These presentations have included Akita’s electronics battling with traditional instruments like drums and guitar, as well as solitary shows with nothing more than the man standing before a table strewn with homemade equipment.

The full extent of Merzbow’s discography is probably only known to Masami himself, but the unofficial count has now surpassed 170 releases on cassette, vinyl, and CD on a diverse array of labels worldwide. In addition to Merzbow, Akita has performed with other Noise entities including Masonna, Melt Banana, Discordance Axis, Gore Beyond Necropsy, and Cock ESP. Besides creating Noise, he’s authored two books on extreme culture and is a freelance writer for Japanese pornography magazines. He has also scored Ian Kerkhof’s film, Deadman 2. Tauromachine is Merzbow’s latest collection of otological incendiaries. Released by America’s own Relapse, tauromachine is the sound of machinery operating on full speed in a mad scientist’s laboratory. The seven digital experiments presented run an aural gamut between hypnotic pulsations to violent dissordance. Each track offers the listener a disturbing journey into the deepest extremities of Noise with such ‘songs’ as “soft water rhinoceros”, “heads of clouds”, and “wounded cycad dub”. Some people claim to thoroughly enjoy Akita’s orchestrated cacophonies. Rest assured, his Merzbow project is not for the weak-willed or faint-hearted; a listener must be able to savor hissing static, grinding feedback, and almost unending distortion. Noise can be difficult to digest even for those who are appreciative of musical extremes, but it all comes off with a sinister ambiance that attracts as it repels. Given his commitment to and consummate production of Noise, the sonic artwork of Masami Akita is sure to usher in the savage sounds of the next millennium.

What first attracted you to Noise?

I was influenced by aggressive Blues Rock guitar sounds like Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, Robert Fripp and fuzz organ sounds such as Mike Ratledge of Soft Machine. But the most structured Noise influence would have to be Free Jazz such as Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and Frank Wright. I saw the Cecil Taylor Unit in 1973 and it was very influential. I was a drummer for a free form Rock band in the late ’70s and I became very interested in the pulse beat of the drums within Free Jazz. I thought it was more aggressive than Rock drums. I also became interested in electronic kinds of sounds. I started listening to more electro-acoustic music like Pierre Henry, Stockhausen, Fancois Bayle, Gordon Mumma and Xenakis. Then I found the forum for mixing these influences into pure electronic noise. I was trying to create an extreme form of free music. In the beginning, I had a very conceptual mind set. I tried to quit using any instruments which related to, or were played by, the human body. It was then that I found tape. I tried to just be the operator of the tape machine– I’m glad that tape is a very anonymous media. My early live performances were very dis-human and dis-communicative. I was using a slide projector in a dark room at that point. I was concentrating on studio works until 1989 then I assembled some basic equipment before I started doing live Noise performances. Equipment included an audio mixer, contact mike, delay, distortion, ring modulator and bowed metal instruments. Basically, my main sound was created by mixer feedback. It was not until after 1990, on my first American tour, that I started performing live Noise Music for presentation to audiences. The first US tour was a turning point for finding a certain pleasure in using the body in the performance. Right now I’m using mixer feedback with filters, ring, DOD Buzz Box, DOD Meat Box, and a Korg multi-distortion unit. I am using more physically rooted Noise Music not as conceptually anti-instrument and anti-body as before. If music was sex, Merzbow would be pornography.

In America, pornography is often viewed as vulgar and offensive– especially to women. Are you implying that Merzbow is for men?

No. I mean that pornography is the unconsciousness of sex. So, Noise is the unconsciousness of music. It’s completely misunderstood if Merzbow is music for men. Merzbow is not male or female. Merzbow is erotic like a car crash can be related to genital intercourse. The sound of Merzbow is like Orgone energy– the color of shiny silver.

How did you get involved with tape trading through the mail in the early ’80s?

When I started Merzbow the idea was to make cheap cassettes which could also be fetish objects. I recorded them very cheaply and then packaged them with pornography. I got very involved with the mail art network which included home tapers like Maurizio Bianchi, Jupitter Larser of Haters, and Trax of Italy. Just as Dadaist Kurt Schwitters made art from objects picked up off the street, I made sound from the scum that surrounds my life. I was very inspired by the Surrealist idea “Everything is Erotic, Everywhere Erotic”. So, for me Noise is the most erotic form of sound. The word “noise” has been used in Western Europe since Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises. However, Industrial music used “noise” as a kind of technique. Western Noise is often too conceptual and academic. Japanese Noise relishes the ecstacy of sound itself.

You have been quoted as saying, “There are no special images of ideology behind Merzbow”– unlike the early Industrialists such as Throbbing Gristle, SPK, and Whitehouse that used shocking imagery . Yet you have repeatedly used pornography. Isn’t pornography a shocking image that creates a certain ideology, whether intended or not?

I have two directions in the use of pornography. In my early cassettes and mail art projects I used lots of pornography. I made many collages using pornography as it was a very important item in my mail art/mail music. I thought my cheap Noise cassettes were of the same value as cheap mail order pornography. These activities were called “Pornoise”. In this direction, I would say that I used pornography for it’s anti-social, cut-up value in information theory. I soon started to release Merzbow vinyl which was very different from the cassettes of this same time period. I think my vinyl works concentrated more on sound itself because I think vinyl is a more static medium. So, Merzbow went in two separate directions in the ’80s- a cassette direction and a vinyl direction. In the ’90s, these directions were mixed for one Merzbow. I know you’re thinking I’m still using porn images like bondage but these images are not porn to me. I use bondage images only for the release of connected works like Music for Bondage Performance I and 2 and Electroknots. My reasons for using bondage images are very clear- not for shock element but for documentary value. In fact, all bondage pictures I use are taken by myself. I know who the models are and who tied them up. I know the exact meaning of these bondage pictures. This is very different from people using Xeroxed bondage images from Japanese magazines. I know that there are many bondage images associated with Merzbow releases. But many of these releases use stupid images without my permission. I should control all of them but it is very difficult to control all products abroad. I don’t like the easy idea of using images without the knowledge of the image itself. So, it’s meaningless to create ideology by using pornography without the correct knowledge of the image itself.

What kind of reaction did you get when you started performing in Japan?

In Japan, the Noise audience looks very normal. I think most of them are middle-class salary men. Recently, we have more young, underground music types coming to a show. In the early days, the reaction was nothing. People thought that the music was just too difficult and loud. Recently, more people know how to comprehend my music. Many people have said they could get into a trance from the music. This is a better way of understanding Merzbow. Now, Grindcore and Techno people come to see Merzbow. It’s not a very large Noise scene in Japan but we have been getting more places allowing a performance than ever before. Fortunately, many other people in the genre know about each other and perform together. I have also been playing a few Techno events. Right now, the Merzbow live unit is myself, Reiko, and Bara. Reiko is not into music nor is she a Noise player. Bara is performing Noise as his art action. They play a very physical kind of music meaning that they always struggle with sound. It’s like the idea of playing with street noise, construction noise, ambient noise, and machine noise. That separation creates a very static feeling and that is my intention– I don’t like to play with musicians in Merzbow. They bother me. Last year, the three of us finished an American tour. We played in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Cleveland. American audiences are nice and clever. The audiences were very crowded. I met some interesting people like Elden of Allegory Chapel, Ltd., Dwid from Integrity, the band Smegma, and all the people who helped organize these shows. The audiences contained many great fans

What other bands involved with Noise have you collaborated with?

Masonna, Hijokaidan, Aube, and Monde Bruits. Maso of Masonna came to see my first live performance in Kyoto. I met Mikawa, who played in both Hijokaidan and the Incapacitants, at a record shop and we went to have a few drinks. Alchemy Records started a CD series dedicated to pure Noise called Good Alchemy and I played as a guest drummer with Hijokaidan. Iwasaki of Monde Bruits organized my first Merzbow show in Osaka. Then we played together at some point.

Tell me a little about your books Scum Culture and Bizarre Sex Moderne.

Scum Culture is a compilation of articles including such topics as bad taste art, Satanic Heavy Metal music, scatological performances of Vienna Aktionism, music of Art Brut, Adolf Wolfli, and work of Social Patient Kollective. After I published this book, the term “Scum Culture” became a little bit popular in the Japanese media. Bizarre Sex Moderne is a cult study and history of sex magazines of pre-World War II. This period was synchronized with world modernism culture. Large chapters are dedicated to the topic of Japan’s premiere sex magazine Grotesque. There’s also an article about some pioneers in Japanese sexual research such as Hokumel Umehara, Seiu Ito, and Tetsu Takahashi.

I understand that you currently write for Japanese pornography magazines.

I started writing articles about S/M and fetishism. I’ve been very fascinated by surrealistic erotic literature as well as psychoanalysis. People like George Bataile, Andre Breton, Sigmund Freud, and Kraft Ebbing. I’m also interested in Nudism culture and nude photography from the 1920s.

What are the differences between Japanese and American pornography?

The definite difference is that there is no genitals or intercourse in Japanese porno because of our censorship laws. Of course, we have ratings as does the US. Though there are no S/M or scatological magazines in convenience stores, our society has a tendency to make concessions for politeness in respect to sexual violations. Most of Japan’s sexual trauma is high school girls. High school girls are a very powerful sexual icon in our society. High school girls are also very powerful in regards to fashion and social behavior.

Mainstream Japanese culture also seems more accepting of bondage films and women having sex with an octopus. Why?

We have no deviant sex because we have no Christianity. That is, until the end of the Tokugawa era in the 1800s. We began to import Western scientific theory and our sexuality began to Westernize. We also imported Western sexuality without knowledge of Christianity. The reason for women having sex with an octopus is because of our censorship– her genitalia is covered. We have censorship of the genitals and no censorship of any sexual image without genitals. In the Japanese tradition, we have lots of strange sex images such as women with octopi. I think our present sexuality is influenced subliminally from the times before Tokugawa sexuality. It’s a kind of mental pleasure- a sense of humor in sexuality. Presently, Manga and Owarai entertainment is also the same reconstructed traditional culture. In this culture, sex is not a matter of politics or science as is AIDS., the Gay movement, and sexual harassment in Western culture. Japanese sexual culture is a world of the imagination.

What is the difference between Japanese and American Pop culture?

I think that American Pop Culture has more variety. Japanese society is a television community. The most important thing for most people is doing the same things most other people do. No individuality exists in this society with music, fashion, and language. The Japanese government thinks Japan is one nation of one race. But that is a lie. This same theory applies to the Japanese media.

Has American culture had any negative effects on your country?

Yes, AIDS and coffee. For me, American Pop Culture was a stigma when I was a child in the 1950s. America won the war so maybe “U.S.A” is a symbol of power and big dreams. Japanese culture has also had effects on America. A negative effect is the economy. A positive effect is food.

How has growing up in Japan effected your Noise creation?

Sometimes, I would like to kill the much too noisy Japanese by my own Noise. The effects of Japanese culture are too much noise everywhere. I want to make silence by my Noise. Maybe, that is a fascist way of using sound.

Article first published in EsoTerra #8, 1999.

(Source: www.esoterra.org/merzbow)

> AUTOGEN / KLUSIE VIESI – Post-Apo CD (Mandat Nr. 38) Review

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Autogen’s new split release with Klusie Viesi takes on an aptly titled approach through its creative extraction of sound source that are implemented in a drastic and unique manner. In ‘Post-Apo’, Kaps (Autogen) experiments with the use of Soviet civil defence and coldwar military equipment discovered in World War II bunkers in Riga, Latvia. Partnering in crime on this album is Klusie Viesi or “Silent Visitors’, who works with Soviet synths, coal microphones and UVB receivers.

This is an interesting project that takes the listener on an abstract escapade of glitches and pulses. These unique snippets of sound elements grow on you as they slowly build up into an abstract industrial rhythm. Many of the tracks start off in a minimal and random manner, at times just falling quiet into an audio abyss only to come back on again. The short bursts of squeals and tweaks eventually build up into a progressive overlay of radio static, drilling swooshes and buzzes, which slowly engulf the listener into a symphony of abstract melody.

The theme of this album is reflected well through the emotional exploration of raw minimal and industrial elements at its most abstract execution. The bits and bytes of abstract sounds generated from cold war Soviet equipment are juxtaposed with one another that create an interesting collage work of audio symphony. They are pieced together just like a jigsaw that overlay and build upon its own rhythm. The sounds generated from the unique use of military equipment demonstrate the creative abstraction of an exciting audio exploration. ‘Post Apo’ brings about the eventual hope as the result of a journey through a fragile post-apocalyptic world.

More Info At: http://www.sturmmandat.com/artists/autogen

> ANTI FASHION OV ATILLA CSIHAR By Braydon (CVLT NATION)

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The man himself doesn’t need an introduction nor does his persona. I choose to focus on his despotic fascination for homemade costumes and “clothing” that he chooses to adorn himself with on stage for Mayhem, Void Ov Voices and Sunn O))). At one gig going as far to make himself up as a tree, explaining that Sunn O))) music was for the plants. Some of his appearances have nonetheless been deemed controversial or lame, but opinions are irrelevant because it is not made with the intentions to impress. Some of his masks were designed by Nader Sadek, who I also plan to write about. Various others designs that have come across were the German Hitler outfit, broken mirror man, the death priest (over 70 years old and made by nuns) and the mummy…

Atilla states about the purpose of the visual aesthetics “I like to challenge the audience, so the worst thing for me is going on stage with something that has been seen a million times before, like corpse paint. Actually, the first time I wore corpse paint was in 1987 with my band Tormentor. Alien Sex Fiend were using white make-up, so I started to wear a white base and put black make-up on top, around the eyes and the mouth. It was cool then”

Read about his other thoughts and check out all the costumes below:

And future ideas “I want to make something that would make me look like I was performing in another dimension. I wanted to levitate in a huge, on-stage aquarium filled with liquid, wearing deep-diving gear. We planned to have strange or weird sea animals swimming around, like ink fishes, octopuses and horseshoe crabs, for instance. I wanted a spacesuit but they are extremely expensive. Huge crystals could be good too for appearing as a fossil

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(About the Author: A domesticated primate philosopher on an oxygen-supported carbon based planet circling a Type G star. Also a polymath of the arts and sciences, and animal at heart. I love attending concerts, black metal culture, drawing, reading, meeting like minded persons, runic lore, writing, bdsm, walks through nature, sampling her finest herbs and doing primal fitness. I am an activist and animist so my recent writings will take more focus on these, as well as other outside culture. Sometime in the near future i will move to UK and then Norway, My other journals include: http://aferalspirit.wordpress.com/ http://atmanentelechy.wordpress.com/ http://journeyoftheseer.tumblr.com/)

(Source: http://www.cvltnation.com/anti-fashion-ov-atilla-csihar-2/)

> 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)

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