A couple of weeks ago, we talked with avant-garde genrebenders The Body (consisting of guitarist/noisemaker Chip King and drummer Lee Buford) after their incredible show at Apop Records. We were able to wrangle a list of songs out of them, ranging from gloomy post-punk to poppy folk. Check em out!
FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO, curated by THE BODY:
1. The Cure – 100 Years
2. Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky
3. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
4. Big Star – Daisy Glaze
5. Fleetwood Mac – Planets of the Universe (demo version)
Huge thanks to Chip and Lee for their time. The Body's excellent new record "Christs, Redeemers", is available via Thrill Jockey Records (!!) and can be purchased here. Stay tuned to Thought Forge Sundae to hear a full interview with The Body soon!
Milwaukee's best sludge purveyors NORTHLESS just released a terrific new record, entitled "World Keeps Sinking". It's 60 minutes of pummeling, uncompromising metal, and we were fortunate enough to be able to ask guitarist/vocalist Erik Steinglein a few questions, as well as wrangle a segment of FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO out of him.
KWUR: Can you introduce everyone who worked on "World Keeps Sinking"?
ES: Absolutely. I'm Erik, and I played guitar and did vocals. Nicholas Elert played guitars. John Gleisner played drums. Jerry Hauppa played bass guitar. The record was recorded by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Studios, was mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering, and was co-released by Cory von Bohlen (Halo of Flies Records) and Adam Bartlett (Gilead Media). Paul Jeffrey did the artwork. They worked on the record a ton (just not the music side), so I am including them.
KWUR: On this new record, your sound is tighter, and a little bit sludgier than your previous split with Light Bearer. How do you think your sound has changed, if at all?
ES: I think the new record definitely shows more of our progressive influences. 90's math rock, and 70's prog rock are huge influences on us collectively. To play stuff like that, you have to play tightly, so I think that motivated us to shape up our chops. I also think the newer material is more melodic in retrospect, though I wouldn't say that was intentional. As a band, we do what feels best at the moment. We don't try to write to fit a certain style or expectation. Learning how to record music on my own also opened up the ability to heavily scrutinize material during the writing process, which I think led to a more cohesive finished product overall.
KWUR: What are some of the themes behind "World Keeps Sinking"? Did you have anything specific in mind when you wrote the songs?
ES: Hatred and existential misery are ongoing themes for us, but for this record, I actually was in the midst of a full-blown fallout with some people who were close friends of mine. It was a really fucked up situation that left me in a very bad spot, let's just leave it at that. I channeled all the negative energy I could into these tunes, and it all came together pretty quickly. I would say that 85% of the record was written in the several months right before we recorded in May. Spontaneity can be great. Hopefully I won't go through any shit like that again, though. The next time I won't survive to write another record.
KWUR: Can you tell is more about your local scene? I know you guys are releasing your new record through Gilead Media, which is based in Wisconsin. If you were to play a local show, who'd be on the bill beside you?
ES: The scene here is great. There are a lot of diverse bands doing killer things, and it makes for more diverse shows, which wasn't the case for a while there when the metalcore scene had its grip on Milwaukee's penis in the early to mid 2000's. Thankfully, most of those bands and people are gone now, and the creative people who actually gave a shit were left behind to create good sounds.
At this moment, if I could jam with any Milwaukee bands on a show, it would be Group Of The Altos, Shut In, Shroud of Despondency, and Sacrificial Massacre. I'm certainly not saying these are the only good bands from Milwaukee (far from it), but these are the bands striking me right the fuck now.
KWUR: Any future plans for Northless? Touring, splits, etc
ES: Yes. We're working on a covers record. It will be either really awesome or really shitty…but it's happening so fuck you! We're also planning to release splits with a couple of bands in late 2014/early 2015…Don't want to announce those until things are confirmed. We'll be doing a small bit of touring this year…8 days on the East Coast in March, and about a week doing middle America places, not really the Midwest. More on those soon…
And now, FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO, courtesy of NORTHLESS:
Swans- “Coward”: What else can I say? Easily one of the biggest influences on me personally as a musician. Heavy in a completely non-metal way. Totally minimalist and dark. Genre-less. Grim. If you're not familiar, you need to get familiar yesterday. The future happened almost 30 years ago, and we're barely catching up now.
Discordance Axis- “End Of Rebirth”: Not many people can singularly point to their favorite band, but I can, and it's Discordance Axis, specifically “The Inalienable Dreamless” record. It's the most intense record I've ever heard, from any genre. It's bizarre and blazing fast and punishing. This song is one of the most intense pieces of music I've ever heard. I also just plain love blast beats, and Dave Witte's are the best ever. I wish he'd play more of them nowadays…
Portal- “Omnipotent Crawling Chaos”: Metal music as an artform is arguably entering it's 43rd year, if you consider that Black Sabbath essentially formed in 1970. I've been listening to metal for 24 of those years, and I really thought until recently that I had heard everything there was to hear, and that metal music had pretty much reached its apex of silliness and creativity…And then I heard Portal. Out of nowhere they came, completely atonal, devoid of melody, with terrifying timbres recalling the darkest nethers of R'lyeh, or like choking to death slowly on a distant planetary moon devoid of life. This song has always stuck out of their catalog to me for some reason. It's crushing, in every possible way.
Phillip Glass- “Koyaanisqatsi”: So in college I took a lot of Philosophy courses. One of my most memorable classes was an Environmental Ethics class, which in many ways opened to my eyes to so much bullshit in this world. Our professor had us watch the film, and most people fucking hated it, even if they got it. I was simply blown away by the musical compositions in the film, and this was my first exposure to modern, avant garde classical music. I can't choose one section of the piece to suggest, so I'm just suggesting the whole thing since I view it as one solid composition anyway. A must see and listen.
Tom Waits- “I Don't Wanna Grow Up”: Tom Waits is a genius, plain and simple. The man can pen a tune like no one's business. His “Storytellers” record is fucking essential, and this song is about as honest as it gets. The lyrics hit me hard, every time…I guess I'm one of those regretful grown-ups that never wanted to be, but here I am. The melody and guitar tone are so simple and yet beautiful. Tom Waits writes some of the heaviest music ever.
Big thanks to Erik for his time. "World Keeps Sinking" is available via Gilead Media, Halo of Flies records, or digitally at northless.bandcamp.com.
Pallbearer just kicked off a big tour with American doom metal legends St. Vitus. In the second installment of Five Songs To LIsten To, we met up with Pallbearer bassist Joe Rowland and guitarist Devin Holt, who gave us an awesome list of songs that they think everyone should hear, ranging from fatalistic country to crushing sludge metal.
FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO, by PALLBEARER
"This is by far, the saddest song I've ever heard in my entire life. I never knew music could sound this hopeless and bleak." – Joe
"There's a lot of parallell between early doom metal and old-school country. Living in a car, moving from town to town, hoping that some promoter somewhere had a spot open for a show." – Devin
"This was the first song that really got me into heavy music." – Joe
4. Ulver – Eos
"Ulver never compromised their sound, and I respect them for that. They always did whatever they felt like doing, and we strive to do the same thing." – Devin
"This song speaks to me, even though it's just analog synth and drums. It exemplifiies a state of being that I want to achieve." – Joe
Huge thanks to Joe and Devin for their time. Listen to Thought Forge Sundae this Thursday at 10 pm to hear the full interview, and stay tuned for the next installment of FIVE SONGS TO LISTEN TO.
Victoria, B.C.'s HARROW just released a new record, entitled "Fragments of a Fallen Star". I had the great opportunity to ask frontman/vocalist/noisemaker Ian Campbell some questions about the new record.
KWUR: Can you introduce the people who worked on this record? What's your songwriting process like?
IC: Sure, Fragments was written by myself, Ian Campbell, and Kyle Brickell. The song “Keening” was written with the help of our first bass player, Chase Sutherland, back in 2011. Ray Hawes also lends his voice to a few parts on the album and plays banjo on the last track. The artwork is done by Jeremy Hannigan, who did our first album cover and will most likely continue to bring our full lengths into the visual realm.
The song writing for “Fragments” was a bit… fragmented, to use an awful pun. The album was written in small chunks over the course of 2011 and early 2012. When we started recording, Keening was the only song that was completely finished. The rest of the songs were pieced together over the spring and summer of 2012 as we recorded. It isn’t until recently that I have presented complete songs for the other members to learn and add to before we record them.
KWUR: When you approach a longer piece like the title track, how much spontaneity is there when recording? Did you plan out the noises and samples in advance, or did you take a more improvisational approach?
IC: There was quite a bit of spontaneity in that track, especially at the beginning and the end. The noise was totally improvised, as was the drum solo. We did multiple takes, each different, and chose the best one, the space samples were added later. When we play the ending of that song live it tends to be different every time as well.
KWUR: How long have you guys been working on "Fragments of a Fallen Star"? After your last split with Walden, your production seemed to become more spacious and open-sounding. Was this a specific choice in making "Fragments"?
IC: We started recording in April 2012 and finished most of the tracking around June. However, I spent quite a long time mixing the album, getting guest appearances recorded and re-recording some parts, so the album wasn’t complete and mastered until very early 2013. It was definitely the longest I’ve worked on a piece of music. At this point the album seems old to me already and it isn’t even out in physical form yet!
The production was somewhat a conscious decision, yes. It is a result of Kyle and I both improving our recordings skills, as we are both self taught through doing these and other albums. It is gratifying that the change is noticeable, hopefully in a good way.
KWUR: What's next for Harrow? Do you have any touring plans or upcoming projects?
IC: Well, “Fragments of a Fallen Star” will be released on cassette at the end of September by my label, Shadow of the Stone. Other than that we are working on what will become our third full length. We have two songs finished and a third one on the way. The album will most likely be recorded at some point over the coming winter.
We have a few shows planned in around Victoria and Vancouver in October, including two supporting Wolvserpent, which we are excited for. We also may be doing some less conventional dates around Vancouver Island, but those are still in the planning stages. The new material we are working on is very much meant for live performance, so we are very excited to bring it to life for an audience.
Other than that Jake is working on recording the next Walden album and always doing something with his grindcore band Bungus. I may work on my folk project, Crooked Mouth, when I get the time, as I have a few ideas for split releases being tossed around and a few unfinished songs to record, but nothing is set in stone at the moment.
KWUR: What inspired the use of samples/noise from NASA's Voyager probe? Is the space theme something that defines "Fragments" or is it a more general artistic choice?
IC: The space theme is certainly an important part of “Fragments.” The point in the song the samples were used are meant to represent the main character being broken down and transported across time and dimension where he will be reconstituted to exist in a more heroic age. These samples appealed to me greatly, they really are music in themselves and they seemed a good fit for the concept and the sonics of that specific part of the song.
The concept that really defines this record is my take on the idea of “oneness.” We can find the path to this concept in so many different ways and traditions. One that helped open my mind to the idea was contemplation of space and the origin of matter, which, as far as we know, originates from some kind of single source and has only been transformed over the vast gulf of time to form us as humans who contemplate it. It is a very Sagan-esque idea of course, the expression of this “oneness” though the filter of modern human science rather than a more esoteric tradition. We are the fragments of our fallen star, our elements created in the nuclear fires of its core. We all come from something much greater than ourselves.
KWUR: Can you give us a rundown of your local scene? If you were to play a local show, who would you share the stage with? Anyone in particular that you respect or admire from the BC metal scene?
IC: There are some excellent bands from Victoria to check out, we recently played with Northern and Nostrum who are both great bands and good friends. Black metal has a following here but bands seem to come and go rather quickly. We’ve played with some pretty diverse bands, as much out of necessity as anything else. Our first tour was with stoner metal band Hoopsnake. On that venture we played with war metal cults, all girl punk groups and powerviolence bands made up of high school kids, often at the same show. So the B.C. scene is quite interesting. There is no united “black metal” scene to speak of.
The one metal band from Victoria who is still going and probably have the most international notoriety is Iskra. We’ve never played with them, but they are key supporters in the city’s punk scene and keep a lot of things going for extreme music in the area.
As for the rest of B.C. we would heartily recommend Skagos, Mitchondrion, Funeral Circle, Gyibaaw and Night Profound to name a few. We’re happy to call all of these groups friends and are very much fans of their art.
Big thanks to Ian for his time. Harrow's latest record, "Fragments of a Fallen Star" can be purchased via their bandcamp page, http://harrowblackmetal.bandcamp.com.