Not only did Intronaut just release its fourth full-length, Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones), on Tuesday, but the band also recently wrapped up a tour in support of Meshuggah. Needless to say, the quartet probably spent quite a bit of time driving from show to show. Sacha Dunable was kind enough to pass along his “stoney driving” playlist, any further description of which would just find us wasting words (though we will point out that, much like his peers in BATILLUS and Kowloon Walled City, extreme selections are the exception and this marks the second mention of Jaga Jazzist in three weeks). Feel free to listen along here.
Nik Bärtsch’s “Modul 22″ (from 2004′s REA)
This is probably the nerdiest shit you could ever be into, but counting out intense polyrhythms can be a great way to pass time on long drives. Have you heard this band? It’s like if Meshuggah was a jazz band. We love them and rip them off very often on the new record.
Tortoise’s “Crest” (from 2004′s It’s All Around You)
It’s really all about just letting this whole record ride, but this song is great. All their records are a great soundtrack to a drive through anything from Bavaria to Nebraska.
The Roots’ “Mellow My Man” (from 1995′s Do You Want More?!!!??!)
Ahmir Khalib Thompson presumably changed his name to Questlove not because that was a reasonable name for a human to have, but because he is one of the best musicians to ever live so who is going to tell him shit? This band and record totally smoke “like Al B Sure, for your pleasoore.”
Jaga Jazzist’s “Toccata” (from 2010′s One-Armed Bandit)
There is a video on YouTube of them playing this song live in a church, and it will blow your mind. Don’t watch it while driving on tour though. Great tune for when you want to feel like you’re manning the Death Star on a mission to nuke some Ewoks.
Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown” (from 2009′s The Very Best Of Augustus Pablo Gold)
Reggae has always been up there with “Irish-themed punk rock” for me as a contender for the Weakest Bullshit Excuse for Music Ever award, but a few years ago I got turned on to some good stuff and eventually got really stoked on a lot of dub reggae, which is reggae made better and way stonier by adding delays and other effects to drums, guitars, vocals, whatever. This guy in particular is rad, and this song is my favorite from him. Most of it is actually samples from a song called “Baby I Love You So” by a guy named Jacob Miller.
The Cinematic Orchestra’s “Burn Out” (from 2002′s Every Day)
Another group that makes me feel like I am totally wasting my time trying to make music. This particular track, at about 10 minutes in length, is perfect for long drives where you won’t be interrupted by much more than some mid-slumber flatulence by your bandmates.
D’Angelo’s “Playa Playa” (from 2000′s Voodoo)
This whole record is just inhuman. I got turned onto this by my bandmate Dave [Timnick] a few years ago and now its one of my favorites for these tour drives. Dude wrote and performed most of this record himself, and when he wasn’t playing all the instruments he had Pino Paladino and Questlove step in to help. Everything is so behind the beat it should be wrong, but instead it just grooves way too hard.
Snoop Dogg’s “Fresh Pair Of Panties On” (from 2004′s R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece)
Do I really need to explain why this song is one of the most important moments in musical history? Just listen to it, unless you don’t want the rest of your day to be awesome.
Sleep’s “Dopesmoker” (from 2003′s Dopesmoker)
Proceed your weedian ass to Nazareth.
*Order a copy of Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones)here.
**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
I have a pet hamster. His name is Ozzy. He is adorable but terrified of everything. However, over the course of his cohabitation with me, he’s become acclimated to the sounds of heavy metal, probably due to the fact that I play it for 16 hours a day. I’ve discovered that he actually has quite discerning taste, and reacts differently to the different things I play. So, in this column, I’m going to play him some of the latest metal singles, record his reaction, and then offer my scientific interpretation of what his behavior means vis-à-vis the song.
Song: Ghost BC – Year Zero
Reaction: The subject stood on top of the upside down food bowl on his ledge. Scaled the bars on the corner of his cage. Grabbed the roof, carefully. Pulled himself up, hooked his hind feet onto the roof. Climbed across, upside down, until he lost his grip and tumbled down to the bedding. Landed, shook his head, ran into his house.
Interpretation: The Dark Lord is calling! I must go to him! His voice draws me upwards, inspiring me to greater heights. This barred firmament shall not impede my progress! There must be a point of egress. I know there’s a reason His Infernal Majesty endowed me with this quadridexterous form. This can be done. One bar at a time… no – no no no! I am once more betrayed by this feeble form. My shame must not be witnessed by my master, especially not after he honored me with such glorious song.
Song: Beyond the Shore – Half Lived
Reaction: The subject rushed to the side of his house. Picked up a food pellet in his mouth. Ran over to his water bottle. Dropped the food pellet. Stood on his hind legs. Waited a moment. Gnawed at the base of the nozzle. Ran back into his house.
Interpretation: What in the name of Cthulhu’s tentacled maw is this insanity?! I must make it cease! Perhaps if I present an offering to the Great Water Idol. It will mean potential starvation, but I feel it to be a worthwhile sacrifice. There. Take this delicious offering. What? You ignore me?! Face my wrath, impudent statue! Arrgh, this accursed noise can no longer be tolerated. I shall hide until the agony has passed.
Song: Finntroll – Blodsvept
Reaction: The subject poked his head over the side of the ramp in his cage. Pulled himself onto it. Ran up to the ledge, squeezed inside his tissue box gazebo. Pushed against the side until the tissue box fell off the ledge. Poked his head out. Ran back into his house.
Interpretation: This is it, I knew it – the predators have arrived, they are hungry, and I have been caught defenseless. I shall not be taken so easily by such monstrosities. A barricade must be erected! Unfortunately, I find myself without the proper tools. Improvisation will have to do. I have not figured out what this strange structure is for, but it will serve my purpose. Whee! Oh crap, this did nothing, and now I find myself exposed in a flimsy, easy movable dwelling. Maybe this was their plan all along! Well, I’ll show them. They’ll never get me inside my house!
It’s funny, the press releases that accompany doom records are unlike any of your typical puff-sheets, the purpose of which, of course, is to sell you on the record. No, the doom press release always comes with the caveats abound, stressing the oppressive track lengths, moribund subject matter, and advising helpfully that “it’s not for everyone”.
British doom trio Moss‘s third LP Horrible Night is hardly disco beats and mellow psych grooves, but anyone who has followed their crestfallen career trajectory over the years will feel the change. There are more riffs, more access points, and if this is Moss’ Horrible Night, maybe they’re getting some sort of masochistic enjoyment out of it. Frontman Olly Pearson calls it fun, which, as you know when it comes to doom metal, is not for everyone.
Was it a conscious decision to write more accessible songs? Not that Horrible Night is accessible per se, but there are more grooves. Olly Pearson: I wouldn’t say it was a conscious decision; it’s just something that came naturally. I mean, we’ve been doing this for 13 years now, and after 13 years you can’t really do the same thing over and over again. So yeah, I think it came from a natural need to progress. Chris has sort of upped the tempo on this one, haha! I guess we’re not miserable teenagers anymore.
5. Loudblast – Sublime Dementia 1993 (Semetary)
Appearing with three tracks on Century Media’s cool In The Eyes of Death compilation in 1991, Loudblast were virtually unknown outside the four corners of France even though they’d released two full-lengths and a string of demos prior to Sublime Dementia. Loudblast twisted Schuldiner’s brutal/melodic idiosyncrasies (from Human) into an always-moving, instrumentally adept edifice, which, for the time, blurred the lines between tech-death and thrash. Guitarists Stéphane Buriez and Nicolas Leclercq are particularly impressive if, like this release, unsung.
4. Sceptic – Pathetic Being 2001 (Empire)
Vader, Behemoth, and Decapitated are on your radar, but Krakow-based Sceptic, who still avoid the attention of larger labels with deeper pockets, aren’t. Well, Sceptic should be one of those blips if scholastic death is part of your daily mind-exercising classload. Guitarists Czesiek Semla and Jacek Hiro studied hard and got good grades at the Schuldiner University of Professional Death Metal. Like their late professor, these two guys bafflingly assemble head-scratchin’ songs with blazingly good solos. There’s a reason there aren’t any hot girls who know what scalars, vectors and matrices mean.
3. Afflicted – Prodigal Sun 1992 (Nuclear Blast)
In the years after its release Prodigal Sun was largely ignored due to the fact that it never fit nicely in any category. Too obstreperous for the br00tal crowd and too coarse to the sensibilities of Cynic devotees. Sort of like Disharmonic Orchestra’s Not to be Undimensional Conscious, Afflicted’s debut existed singularly and no one—even the band abandoned the Prodigal Sun sound for trad metal on 1995’s equally ignored Dawn of Glory—no one’s bothered to attempt to replicate the Stockholm + kitchen sink-sound since. “Harbouring the Soul” alone is worth sitting through the rest of the album’s remaining wayward 35 minutes.
2. Quo Vadis – Forever… 1996 (VomiT)
Quebec is the strangest place on the planet. Stranger than Ulan Bator even. Coined after a Latin phrase meaning, “Where are you going?,” Quo Vadis is part of the same scene that birthed such eight-armed/legged things like Voivod, Gorguts, Cryptopsy, The UneXpect, and Beneath the Massacre. On debut Forever… Quo Vadis declared “nous sommes uniques!” through the incorporation of violin and opera into what is highly accomplished, technically demanding and mind-contorting death. Good luck finding Forever… on CD, but it’s damn good.
1. Sadist – Crust 1997 (Displeased) Crust is what I’d call the pivotal, if criminally ignored, release by Genoa-based Sadist. Clearly, the Italians took a few structure ideas from Destroy Erase Improve, but as an album it’s wholly unique, with boppin’/slidin’ bass lines (think “Uriboric Forms”/“Sentiment”), piercing, atmospheric keyboard layers, and obtuse, grinding riffs with a Holdsworth touch on the solos. A more direct comparison is Australia’s Alchemist. Sadist, however, opted for the cold and clinical on Crust.
Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a twice-monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…
Though perhaps currently better known as one of the most innovative and imaginative artists currently plying his trade in the world of heavy metal design, Joshua Andrew Belanger also happens to be an insanely original, savvy fine artist as his exquisitely renderedArt Book 2012ably demonstrates. The collection covers a lot of ground — from disturbing surrealist nightmares and elegant ethereal visions to gonzo humor and clever social commentary. As part of this column’s ongoing examination of the nexus between extreme music and extreme tomes, we asked Belanger if he’d be up for giving Tales a glimpse of his accompanying soundtrack, and, being the exemplary human being he is, the artist graciously did just exactly that…
So here’s what I’ve been getting lost in while I draw for thirteen hours a day…
Let’s start with an easy one, Between the Buried and Me The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues and The Parallax II: Future Sequence. Both have been on full rotation since they came out. I love the exploration that the band pursues, and while wandering down that path they come back to what I’ve always loved them for: apocalyptic crescendos of perfectly timed guitar work. Alaska is probably my favorite album from the band, so I’m not sure if I’m actually growing alongside them, or if I’m just attaching myself to the parts of the albums that I wish were off of Alaska. Either way, I still pump these records every few days.
In that same vein, I discovered the record The Great Destroyer by Virulent. Head to toe I enjoyed its chugged out guitars and non-intrusive vocals, which provide coherence during some intense riff changes. I think my favorite part of the entire album is 3:29 on the closing track — it brings back so many fond memories of getting lost inside a thick swarm of guitars while driving down I-495 listening to Blood Has Been Shed.
By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, toursOn: Friday, March 15th, 2013
Attn: London’s Live Evil Festival 2013 has just announced a bunch of bands, and as you’d probably expect from the underground’s most, uhh, kvltly curated festival, with 100% of the line-up endorsed by Fenriz’s Band of the Week blog, they are all 100% poseur-free and awesome.
Legendary Chilean death-thrashers Pentagram will be joined by: Arkham Witch, English doom featuring members of The Lamp of Thoth; French N.W.O.S.D.M crew Necrowretch; Irish death/black metallers ZOM; Norwegian blackened thrash trio Condor; Welsh blackened-doom troupe Ghast; Eliminator, heavy metal from England (it’ll never catch on); and finally England’s premier glam-crust band Bastardhammer . . .
Live Evil 2013 will take place on October 18th-20th at the Highbury Garage, London, with two UK exclusive shows from reformed NWOBHM elders SATAN and Ohio slayers MIDNIGHT already confirmed.
As the learned magi of the Live Evil inner circle put it: “With a perfect new venue, killer headliners and a great mix of bands should prove to be the best ever Live Evil. This year includes two stages (upstairs used early in the day), a mini-metal market upstairs too and a late late Saturday after-party takeover of the WHOLE venue included in the ticket price. There are still a few more killer names to be announced for the main festival so get tickets so we can afford to book the bands! You can also expect one more killer act to play with Antichrist and Deathhammer at the separately ticketed Friday pre-show. This is also at The Garage (upstairs) and will also be insane!“
To paraphrase my favorite comic, Mitch Hedberg (R.I.P.), Semantik Punk is a Polish experimental punk outfit that people will either love or hate, or think they’re okay. They’re hardcore enough to sound like a badly scratched Converge or Dillinger Escape Plan CD that won’t stop skipping to random spots on the disc; they’re rock enough to focus on writing groove-able songs; they’re punk enough to eschew all sense of ego and even allow their shifting band name to be part of the performance; and they’re Sigur Rós enough to write lyrics in a nonsensical version of a language rooted in their own heritage.
If you’ve been reading Decibel for a long time (since the teen issues… oh, the teen issues), and if you’ve obsessively re-read Black Label Deb Ball inserts in the reviews section with the intent to memorize every vltra-kvlt underground word, you might recognize the name Moja Adrenalina, which was Semantik Punk’s former name when they released a record called nietoleruje-bije. Late last year they got in touch with producer Ross Robinson (famed producer of Sepultura’s Roots and Slipknot’s Iowa, among a slew of others) and knuckled down on 8 songs and a half-hour drone shimmer, a collection they called abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz.
Decibel caught up with Mr. Robinson and asked him about his experience with the band. Among the various things he didn’t say, what follows is what he did say:
In general, how are you running across bands you’d like to work with these days? More specifically, how did you get hooked up with Semantik Punk?
Well, the guys contacted me online. I’m easy to find. simply message me through twitter or Facebook. The hookup was from a natural respect for each others expression. No mystery..
How much time did you spend working with the band on the record?
Enough time to slam it without getting too insane about little details that don’t matter.
Were there any special/strange situations to deal with for this record as compared to other bands/albums you’ve worked on?
Just that Rafal was a true raw vegan chef driving my runner to the ground getting supplies for his meals. He quit. I thought it was an amazing test for the runner to see who he was. We all got to see something wild.
How do peculiarities in the personalities of the band affect the way your approach your work with them?
I am here to get it done with huge intensity. If people aren’t at the level, I’ll go around them until they can catch up. It’s great with dudes wanting to work with an uplifting gratitude to be here, but a lot of times my job is to be aware and just listen… People want to be heard when times aren’t easy.
What’s your impression of the outcome of the Semantik Punk record?
My impression is that they feel together, not separately tracked. I can feel the ghost flying through the air…
It took a lot of guys to contact and sale me to do this. Most people believe it’s too expensive, or that I won’t like it. They are a great polish experience and so grateful the reached out. Good dudes and good friends – great band…
Great band, indeed. [This is Decibel speaking again, in case the meager dashes above didn't tip you off.] And we’re getting to premiere a new video from the record that does a great job showing off the wacky sense of humor and serious sense of musicianship these guys bring to the table. Enjoy the video and its attempt to glean meaning from meaningless lyrics (more on that below), and then enjoy it eight or nine more times while you read the interview with the band. And you can catch the full album at Bandcamp, too!
How did Semantik Punk start?
I’m not sure how to explain it as it seems like it happened in reverse. Only now, when the album has been recorded and we began to name and sort through what happened, did it all become organized a bit. But earlier, at the creation stage, we didn’t know who we were or what our name was. We were flying blind, not knowing where we were going or why. During most of that time, what you can now hear on the album did not resemble music at all, did not seem to have any core concept, and it seemed like we were going to keep writing forever. Since 1999 we’ve been playing with the same lineup under the name Moja Adrenalina; this was our name on our 2004 debut album nietoleruje-bije, and this was our name while writing music for our second (as it turned out) 2012 debut abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz. The name Semantik Punk emerged at the very end, already in the studio, when we really heard these songs recorded for the first time. In Poland, where throughout all those years we made a name for ourselves on more than just the underground scene, the music is accompanied with this extra dimension of our name change. The press has called this act a “punk performance on self-identity in information space”, “romantic and idealistic manifestation of independence from names and labeling” and “rebellious arrogance towards the market, media, and their constant need to place phenomena in time, space and language”. We like these quotes, but we don’t quite feel like the authors of it all. It would be more accurate to say we allowed it to happen. This process largely happened extraneously. That is how we can now say that we don’t feel like artists anymore. An artist is someone who says “I made this!”. This is not what Semantik Punk is. Semantik Punk is everything that’s not associated with art. That is why every “we wrote”, “created”, “invented”, “decided” or “we planned” (etc etc etc) in this interview should be read in inverted commas. Therefore, Semantik Punk started when we felt we were in inverted commas in relation to “our” music.
Is SP part of a local/regional scene, or do you see your band as separate from other Polish heavy music?
We are recognized in Poland and we consider ourselves a part of a small group of bands which very clearly are the avant-garde of what could be labeled as “Polish heavy music”. The beginnings of the scene are associated with the band Kinsky and its 1993 album Copula Mundi and the band Kobong with its ’95 debut and its way more experimental ’97 album Chmury Nie Bylo (The Cloud is Gone). What started with these albums was later developed by the bands Nyia, Neuma, Progrram, The False Theory of Nicolai Copernicus, Samo or Antigama. We toured with most of those bands, we are friends with all those dudes and we have a common sense of humor, which seems to be an important base for the music of this scene. Unfortunately, only Samo and Antigama are still active, all the other bands have since broken up. Those acts could be associated with the so-called “world-math-avant-freejazz-grind-noise-something-shit scene”, but most likely would be considered a sub-genre of this narrow genre, as they all have something in common that nobody else does. You know, just as the Norwegian black metal is a sub-genre of black metal. For me it’s surprising that those bands never made it out of Poland, as they would certainly make the world avant scene more random. There were guys such as Steeve Hurdle (RIP) of Gorguts/Negativa and Rennie Resmini (Starkweather) supporting and promoting those acts for years. Same to Alap Momin (Dälek) – Samo is probably his favorite. Shane Embury (Napalm Death) released Nyia’s last album on his Feto Records and Antigama was the choice of Relapse Records…but it never seemed the time for this music to really come out.
What music did you hear that got you excited about experimental heavy music?
You could say that our main inspiration for making “experimental music” were two Polish bands mentioned before: Kinsky and Kobong. However, at the stage when purely musical inspirations still mattered to us (in mid-1990s), these bands and their music seemed like the most natural thing. What influenced us the most was the way those bands experimented with harmonies and polyrhythms as well as with the language. But to consider us a strictly experimental heavy band would only be half true. We don’t really have any rules in our writing process except for one: no matter how weird are the forms that come out, they need to have a song-like swing and a dance component. It could be said that our tracks are regular songs, built using irregular rhythm, harmony and language structures. It may make them seem like alternative pieces, but anyone looking for good old song spirit is going to find it there. It appears that it is due to this song-like quality, this well-known and well-liked dramaturgy, that even though the analyzing mind is confused by the unpredictable form, the intuition perceives those tracks as order, something whole, something familiar, rooted in the history of rock & roll. For us, the ultimate songs were created by The Beatles, Ramones, Buzzcocks, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Faith No More or Glassjaw, to name a few, but most of all it was the ‘80s and ‘90s Polish pop-rock, punk, and new wave scene that influenced us.
Anyway, everything I just said refers to the beginnings of our music. It’s been a long time since music influences mattered to us. You could say that we ourselves are our main inspiration, but that also would only be partly true, because our greatest influence comes from the reduction of ourselves in the process of creation, and from looking into what’s left when we disappear.
What influenced the sound of the music and performances on abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz?
Let’s divide it into two parts: writing and recording. As far as the writing is concerned, we have always been making music by way of non-musical events. Something along the lines of “do something with yourself and see what comes out”. But because we ran out of all our ideas for ourselves while making our first album, during the writing of abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz we had no clue what to do with ourselves and we were acting with no plan, unconsciously. Now, when the album has been recorded, we are realizing and naming what happened, we’re coming to the conclusion that there were two processes which influenced our sound and performance: the reversal of the hierarchy of values and the sequence of stages during the creation of the message (understood as the sum total of music, words, cover art, title, band name, and the very act of changing the name), and the reduction of ourselves in the creative process. As far as I can tell, the normal course of events is this: you feel something within yourself, you are able to identify it and give it some kind of form, you feel that you can express it and hope that this message will be received and understood; you go through a sequence of actions in order to carry out each of these steps. When we set out to make abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz, we considered such a standard cause-and-effect sequence unlikely. We were unable to get in touch with whatever is inside us, felt that it cannot be expressed, and even if it is expressed – it will neither be received nor understood. In that instant, everything turned upside down, and so instead of having known from the start who we are and what we want to say, we only named ourselves now and are now trying to decipher the material that came from us. At the same time, we were rejecting everything associated with projecting ourselves into our music, with carrying out our ideas, intentions, plans. We replaced action, i.e. multiplication of self, with refraining from action, i.e. reduction of self. If we had given it any thought at all, the scope of this reduction could have seemed being utopian. The way it ended was that the first word of the album is “nic” (“nothing”), and the last, written but never even said in the recording, is “do pustki” (“to emptiness”). The scope of this reduction was established between these words. There is this old Taoist saying that if you take anything to an extreme, it will turn into an opposite of itself. And so, for a long time we were, very consistently and radically, walking the road of not knowing, reduction and reversal, and at about the stage of entering the studio to record the demo, it started to transform into its polar opposite – into consistency, awareness, and – as we call it – “ex post logic”. We were looking for raw sound, raw execution, we were recording live to analogue tape. Just then, we started seeing and following this “ex post logic” which revealed itself in the tracks, and which we felt did not come from us. At that moment, luckily, Ross Robinson and America appeared in our way. From the Polish perspective, the U.S. constitutes addition and multiplication. The momentum of our already recognized reduction collided with the opposite force which was Ross and his need to enrich and expand our sound. It is probably why our cooperation was so inspiringly difficult at times. We were possessed with the momentum of reduction and with following this “ex post logic”, which as something that did not originate in us, in our consciousness, we treated as something very precious and were very stubborn when it came to protecting it. Same time on many other levels we were very open and trusting, and we generally feel that the final outcome is the result of a very deep and creative compromise. Ross was definitely the element without which this album wouldn’t be complete. As for American standards he is very reduced, minimalistic. He’s also raw, core and very much into not knowing and stuff. At the recording stage, even though we used a lot of our gear and setups, he had huge impact on sound and performance. Our emotional and formal constructions could have collapsed if not for him. He did a lot of work with us at a personal, emotional level. He made us play wildly and violent. Thanks to him, everything is big, living and even more unpredictable. He’s like a supersensitive apparatus for choosing the most intense takes. And as far as inspiring performance goes, he’s irreplaceable. At its core, his work with us was about energy and being imperfect which was a counterpoint to our focus on structure and technique. He also suggested several crucial arrangement solutions, without which, for instance, the ending of “jest to A” (is this A) would not be able to support/handle the first part of this track. Similarly, “zza a” (from behind a) and “pstrokąty” (specktangles) definitely would have been too weak for the conclusion of the first part of the album. The extent and depth of our record’s happy ending are definitely his doing. It should be mentioned that Steve Evetts, who mixed the album, also did an amazing, brilliant job. Thanks to him everything has its place and has become an raw-organic-whole.
How did you decide to use the dialect for the album’s lyrics?
What we’re calling an ancient and nonexistent Slavic dialect is actually poetry written by our lead singer, Adam. Poetry based on rules which are, to us, mysterious. It is not a metaphor, it has no rhymes, meanings or substance in the sense of language or logic. For Poles, it is pretty incomprehensible at the linguistic level, but is instead felt at a deep, intuitive level. Adam balances on the edge of sound, meaning and meaninglessness. In music, these words shift further towards sound, i.e. something which apparently is more universal than language. Adam wrote these words and they were treated with gravitas and respect on account of their very existence. It’s a kind of an elementary and unconditional respect for being, whatever form it might manifest in. We simply perceived these poems as something that reaches this place within us, where language doesn’t exist. It was only later that we thought that perhaps it might work in a similar way for people from different cultural backgrounds. Now we know it does. The first proof of this was Ross, who speaks no Polish at all. He perceived these words/sounds beyond the language and mind. It works similarly in Europe and China. It turned out that deep down we are pacifists who would like to see people understand one another at some higher level, beyond language, and our music and lyrics are, in fact, a wave of love for the world. In this respect, we could be considered representatives of Class-B New Age Music. (laughter!) Let me tell you about the recent surprise that hit us when we tried to translate these poems online. Everyone who ever used an automated online translator knows that the translation of even the simplest sentences usually turns out idiotic. In the case of our poems, it works the opposite way. They turn out great and amazing. Having no meaning or substance to begin with, they lose nothing. Instead, they become enriched with some component which is mysterious but very contemporary for culture and beauty of modern civilization. Our favorite is Bing – it’s definitely the best. The translated lyrics in the “jest to A” video – is this A – came from Bing. They owe us a shitload of money for this discovery! (laughter)
Why did you choose to title your album with the alphabet?
To us, the alphabet is more than just a collection of letters, it is also a recognizable shape. You don’t need to make sure there are no letters missing [No letters missing? Hmmm...] to know what it is. It’s something between language and a meaningless symbol. Our music and lyrics are a result of balancing on this narrow and apparently illusory edge. It’s a very simple, minimalist message. It is something that emerges when you’re not planning on saying anything in particular. You could say that our band is a generator of meaningless symbols, or of semantically empty language. I mentioned that we “wrote” this album only half-consciously, but now, after the fact, we see it’s something of a metaphor. A metaphor of people’s attempts at using words to describe themselves and the world, at giving them meaning. When we recognized this metaphor, we realized that we seem to perceive reality as something so thick and saturated with dynamic form that trying to assign meaning to it using something as fleeting, limited and static as words ends up being just scraps of meanings, floating on an ocean of possibilities, itself iridescent and sparkling with every possible shade, quality and structure. To us, however, this “failure of the scream of inexpressible” is somehow also beautiful and moving. The shape of abcdefghijklmnoprstuwxyz has something of this unspeakable / inexpressible / unutterable quality. It will be recognized by nearly everyone in the world, and nearly nobody, when asked, will be able to identify its meaning. It is a symbol endowed with a power which is unifying at a more universal level. Its the power which unifies people in common recognition and common lack of need to assign meaning. It is a reversal of what language and symbols are today.
How did you get hooked up with Ross Robinson?
I’ve already mentioned that we are huge fans of songs, and that – contrary to what it seems – there are plenty of song-like elements in our music. In our opinion, the album Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence by Glassjaw, which was produced by Ross and mixed by Steve, is the crowning achievement when it comes to songs in post-hardcore era and we love it dearly. I don’t know why I remembered an interview from 10 years ago, in which somebody of Glassjaw said that Ross wasn’t really interested in demos – he preferred to come to a rehearsal and then decide whether he wants to work with the band. Somehow I remembered it when we were thinking about recording our album and we sent him a video recording of our rehearsal via Facebook… Three days later we got a reply. That’s how it started. I think another reason why we chose Ross and Steve was the fact that they made The Cure album, and the fact that Steve was a producer for The Dillinger Escape Plan. We thought that the scope of their interests and musical experiences, as well as their sensitivity and taste to different aspects of our music, would lead to something nice and pretty (laughs!).
What short term or long term goals do you have for Semantik Punk and its musical direction?
We are working on releasing our album in US and worldwide. For the time being, it’s available in Poland. In June, Noise Asia is going to release it in China and Hong Kong. We’re going there on tour this summer, together with our publisher and friend Dickson Dee, laptop-noise-ambient dude, who’s album Past was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. We are also playing some summer festivals in Poland. Playing live is our main goal for now.
Well, i would like to share an impression, that I just got after reading all my answers. How come, that for describing things as simple and honest as the story behind our album, I needed to use so many words, strange words, strange sentences etc. ? How come, that in order to communicate about something so clear and easy, the common language forced me to use words that I’ve never thought existed before? So, dear readers, please keep in mind, that the fact that this very interview exists and the shape this interview has, are the opposite to what Semantik Punk and semantik punk is all about (despite the fact the semantik punk never really IS ). Or just take a look how Ross dealt with his answers. That raw-vegan-runner-crawling plot is semantik punk at its [at this point the email abruptly ended, which is either an embarassing accident or totally fucking brilliant]
If you’re a fan of Lightning Bolt’s immensely quirky, insanely loud, outsider extreme music, then the name Brian Chippendale is probably very familiar to you. He’s the dervish behind the drums, often seen wearing a sock on his head with a microphone sewn into it as he seemingly grows three extra arms so as to hit everything in sight at the highest velocity. Chippendale also has a side project/one-man band called Black Pus and his third album, All My Relations is due out soon via Thrill Jockey.
To celebrate the release of All My Relations, the folks at Thrill Jockey are appealling to the sick and twisted side of your sick and twisted selves. Send a photo of some pus – whether it’s your own or someone else’s…actually, we don’t wanna know – to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your address and they’ll send you a print of the comic sheet that accompanies the packaging of the new Black Pus album. They have 10 copies to giveaway and no, it doesn’t have to be black to qualify. In the meantime, check out this chat I did with Brian Chippendale as he tells us what he’s been up to lately.
So, this post/interview is running in conjunction with the new Black Pus album, which comes packaged in a comic one-sheet. I also understand you’ve been working on some other comic stuff?
I have been working on a comic for two years and it is being released next year by a company called Picturebox. That’s called Puke Force. Like many things in my life, it’s a joke and a name that I didn’t give up on in the beginning when I probably should have, not unlike Black Pus. I made this book called Ninja like 5-6 years ago; that was about a trillion little characters wandering around this town and this is like the sequel to that. It’s been online on the publisher’s website. I was doing it weekly, kinda like a web comic.
Was it being published anywhere besides the web? Like in alt-weeklies or something?
No, no, just on their blog. I was just doing it there for fun. I did it like every week for six months, then took six months off, then came back and did it for another six months. I don’t think I’ve put one up in about a year now though I am trying to finish the third phase of it. I drew Puke Force up until about June of last year, then Lightning Bolt put out a tour 12” which I had to work on, then we went on tour, then I got married, then it was like the holidays or something in there [laughs] and now this Black Pus stuff.
Say huh? I hadn’t heard much from Lightning Bolt since the last full length. Earthly Delights. That was the last announced like “this is a record” record. We’ve been touring every year and we have a whole record of new songs and we’ve recorded in like two different venues. One was with Dave Auchenbach, who we’ve recorded pretty much everything with. We did a bunch of stuff with him and we did some stuff here at a studio called Machines With Magnets where I recorded the Black Pus stuff. We have more than a full record worth of stuff, we just have to finish it. I think we were basically transitioning out of our relationship with Dave Auchenbach and I think a lot of our recording issues were us trying to change the method of what we’re doing and how to go about it. We’re still playing, it’s just been really slow. It’s also been the pace of our democracy of two people. We’re like the U.S. congress or something. It’s like:“I think it should be eight measures.”
“No, I think it should be four.”
“Fuck it, let’s go get lunch.”
We recorded some stuff here in the fall and we’re pretty happy with it, so I think we found the solution of how to do it. We just have to finish it up and transfer some of the stuff we did with Dave over here. In the meantime, last year I started a bandcamp page where I put a couple older things up which sort of led me to discovering this pile of stuff from 2008-09 that we put on the tour 12”, Oblivion Hunter. That was just home recordings, lo-fi cassette stuff.
I know a few years ago when you were being courted to open for bigger bands, that you remained pretty steadfast to your wanting to play in unique spaces, on floors, in parking lots, etc. Has that philosophy changed?
That philosophy has lightened. I think we care less, but we haven’t been getting asked to open up on a lot of big tours. We got a booking agent, which was new and we played Coachella and Pitchfork Fest and we played up on big stages for those things, but the bulk of our tours have kinda been the same, just driving around in a van, playing for a 150 people, most of the time on the floor. We’ve definitely opened up our options to include other things if they come along, just to try to communicate differently. I think for us that aesthetic and approach was really rad and it formed our music and who we are to some extent, but there are limitations. There end up being all sorts of people you can’t communicate with using that approach so we decided to allow communication with people who don’t want to get their heads stomped while trying to completely shed our older fans as well.
Introduce Black Pus to those who don’t know.
It’s totally me. I started releasing CD-Rs in 2005. The original stuff was just me with a four-track, multi-tracking stuff. Somewhere in 2009-10, I started playing out and this record and [first album] Primordial Pus is based on the one-man band live show. The new thing is all me. Half of it was recorded live and there was some stuff I overdubbed. The studio I was in was pretty hi-fi and it was the first time ever that I used studio separation techniques where I put the amps in a different room, put the vocals in a different room and all that kind of stuff. I think this is going to reflect back on the new Lightning Bolt stuff as well; I think I’ve finally ready to do some separation of sound to milk a little more hi-fi out of it.
When writing, how do you decide what’s Black Pus and what’s Lightning Bolt?
It’s pretty much just being at home and…lately over the last couple of months I’ve been playing drums, but a lot of times I have my Black Pus stuff, like the speakers and the oscillator and whatever, all set up and four or five nights a week I’ll strap it all on and just jam and write a lot of songs that way. Black Pus is kind of minimal in a way, so if I write a song by myself, it ends up being a Black Pus song. Then when me and [Lightning Bolt bassist] Brian [Gibson] write a song when we jam, it’s Lightning Bolt. Usually everything is written out of jamming. I feel like I’ve been a bit of a jerk and hoarding beats and stuff for Black Pus, but now that this record is done, I’m ready to start focusing on the next Lightning Bolt record.
Is Black Pus live done by yourself as well?
Yeah. I can pretty much play the stuff and it’ll sound 80% like it does on record. There’s some pretty cool YouTube stuff where you can see it all. It’s me playing drums with an oscillator mounted on my bass drum which I run through effects and then vocals that I run through a few effects; I loop some of them and it fills itself out as this one-man project. There’s a lot of fast, left foot loop flipping and stuff.
When you tour do you travel alone as well?
I have been, especially if it’s just for a couple of shows here and there. Also, the car I’ve been driving doesn’t fit much more than that. But that car just bit the dust, so I need to get a van so I can do this upcoming tour. I’m going to bring a friend on this tour to help sell shit, drive and carry stuff. I wanted to try and do it by myself because I thought driving by myself for a month around the states would be really interesting and a nice experience, but I just have so much shit. Where we practice is on the third floor of this old mill and the elevator’s been broken for a year-and-a-half now. When I play a Black Pus show, I carry all this stuff down and up the stairs. I weighed everything and it’s 630 pounds of shit. I weight about 170, so I always say that together with my equipment, Black Pus is an 800-pound gorilla. Trying to move all that and sell my stuff as well as driving eight hours a day or whatever, I should just bring somebody. I mean I could do it, but it would be super-stressful and I’d probably end up being some crazy dude by the end of it; it might actually be pretty cool.
Are you still doing the furniture building and freelance art to support yourself otherwise?
Collages, silk screen based paintings, working on comics. I just did a 7” cover for this place Death by Audio in NY who are doing a live 7” compilation. I was building these rooms and house shaped things, but I haven’t been doing that much though I am still trying to juggle a few different realms.
And it’s still enough to help you eke out a living?
Yeah, totally. I mean music’s changed. Lightning Bolt will do a tour and that will float my boat for a while, but royalties have definitely trickled off. Whether we’re selling records or not, we have felt the digital blow a little bit. But then I’ll do stuff on bandcamp and make a little bit off of that, but it’s really not much more than “Let’s go out to eat” money. It’s still kind of working; I’ll sell something here and there. Next Friday, actually, I’m getting on a plane and flying to the United Arab Emirates for 10 days to play at this art festival in a city called Sharjah. They’re setting up this performance piece that involves 10 international drummers – I’m going, Yoshimi from the Boredoms is going and Yoshida from Ruins, Kevin Shea, Susie Ibarra…so that’ll be a crazy kind of gift job though I don’t know what to expect. I don’t even know what to wear [laughs].
If you didn’t get over to the UAE, check out Black Pus on tour:
May 3rd – Boston, MA- Cambridge Elks Lounge
05-04 Buffalo, NY- Sound Lab
05-05 Cleveland, OH- Happy Dog
05-06 Ann Arbor, MI – Elk’s Lodge
05-07 Chicago, IL- Empty Bottle
05-07 Milwaukee, WI – Timbuktu
05-09 St.Paul, MN- Turf Club *
05-10 Omaha, NE- Slowdown
05-11 Denver, CO- Larimer Lounge
05-12 Salt Lake City, UT- Kilby Court
05-14 Boise, ID- Neurolux
05-15 Seattle, WA- Black Lodge ^
05-16 Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05-18 San Francisco, CA- Hemlock Tavern
05-19 Oakland, CA- Lobot Gallery
05-20 Los Angeles, CA- The Smell #
05-22 San Diego, CA- Soda Bar
05-23 Tucson, AZ- Topaz Tundra
05-24 Albuquerque, NM- Small Engine
05-25 Norman, OK – The Opolis
05-26 Austin, TX- Mohawk (Inside)
05-27 Houston, TX – domy/cafe brasil
05-28 New Orleans, LA –Mudlark Theater
05-29 Atlanta, GA- The Earl
05-30 Raleigh, NC- Kings Barcade
05-31 Baltimore, MD- Golden West
06-01 Philadelphia, PA- PhilaMOCA
06-02 Brooklyn, NY- Death By Audio
* – w/ Skoal Kodiak, Seawhores
^ w/ MTNS, Numbs
# – w/Foot Village, Street Buddy
BATILLUS kicked off a month of shows in support of its latest record, the awesome Concrete Sustain, at the end of February. The trek has seen them scoot across the Midwest, over to the left coast and, most recently, Pitchfork’s Show No Mercy SXSW showcase in Austin, TX (check out the band’s remaining dates below). In other words, they’ve logged a lot of miles, so it’s no surprise that guitarist Greg Peterson was in the mood to share what has (hopefully) helped keep him and his bandmates sane as they traverse our great country. “As our friends in Kowloon Walled City recently stated in this space, after listening to and playing loud music all night long, the last thing some of us want to hear in the van is more aggressive noisy metal,” he tells us. “Some pre-’80s heavy rock, maybe. Anyway, when I’m driving, I like to set my iPod on shuffle (less fiddling around with it). If you were riding with us, here’s a sampling of what you might hear…some songs about the road, some songs that sound best when on the road, and a random favorite or two.”
Check out the new track “Concrete” below (Concrete Sustain is due out on Tuesday) and then listen along to Greg’s playlist here.
MC5′s “Kick Out The Jams” (from 1969′s Kick Out The Jams)
Brothers and sisters, this song not only captures the incredible energy of their live presence but somehow the MC5 managed to harness the actual feeling of what it’s like to be on a stage, playing loud-as-hell rock and roll. Like a magic potion in a bottomless vial, tastier than gas station coffee, this song is the first thing I reach for if I’m feeling drowsy at the wheel.
Thin Lizzy’s “That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart” (from 1977′s Bad Reputation)
A word of warning from someone who knows better than you, made all the more potent by the insanely catchy chorus melody. Moral of the story: trying to be a player generally leads to losing the game. (Trivia morsel: while recording Concrete Sustain, I found myself dialing in amplifier settings that made this riff sound good, because I could not stop myself from playing it.)
The Flatlanders’ “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” (from 1990′s More A Legend Than A Band)
This number has a very relaxing effect, and is perfect for a quick retreat into the headphones. It must have something to do with the casual wording of the title, the ghostly tone of the singing saw and the melancholic yet detached sound of Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s voice. A song about seeking after that something that probably doesn’t exist, in a world you no longer believe in. Or maybe it’s just an ode to the quick hook-up.
Ellinger Combo’s “Ride Me Down Easy, Lord”
An amazing version of a fairly straightforward tune about dying of thirst face down in the dust, flashing back on good and bad times long past. The unabashedly lonesome sound of the vocal propped up by the bright little organ line is more eerie than any kvlt black metal I’ve ever heard. Why can’t country music sound like this anymore?
Wire’s “You Hung Your Lights In The Trees/A Craftman’s Touch” (from 1990′s Manscape)
Most people might tell you that Manscape is Wire’s worst album, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Take this ten minute gem, for example—a slowly unravelling conversation between the two vocalists set against minimal dark chords. “Do you still dream of having all of those things?” “How far are we apart?” I also love how the stuttering synth and drum machine rhythm that starts it off, punctuated by a bit of snare, gives my ears a false sense of the downbeat no matter how many times I hear it.
Blue Öyster Cult’s “Debbie Denise” (from 1976′s Agents Of Fortune)
To be singing along to the refrain “I was out rolling with my ba-aa-and” while actually out rolling with my band has definitely been the most meta moment of the tour so far. This band deserves to be known among today’s listeners for its music instead of that stupid SNL skit. (Alright, maybe it is slightly funny.)
Souled American’s “Six Feet Of Snow” (from 1990′s Around The Horn)
Luckily we’ve only had to drive through one brief blizzard outside of Billings, Montana. It snuck up on us from the inside of a rainstorm that came out of nowhere toward the end of an otherwise beautiful day. When you can barely see through the windshield into the impenetrable gray mass of blowing snow, your mind may wander to a cozier place. A bed in New Orleans, for example. The arms of that waiting green-eyed girl, for another. This is my favorite instance of a song going from decent to great through a cover version.
Depeche Mode’s “Waiting For The Night” (from 1990′s Violator) Violator is one of those very rare albums that none of us ever get tired of blasting in the van. Perfectly crafted, rich in detail, and no filler anywhere. I hear new things each time I listen, and every track has been my favorite at least once. For this playlist though, “Waiting For The Night” seems appropriate as that’s mostly what being on tour involves.
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane’s “In A Sentimental Mood” (from 1963′s Duke Ellington & John Coltrane)
Listening to band after band with their massive walls of sound, what I crave most is to hear unamplified instruments played by sensitive musicians, carefully placed dissonances and lots of breathing room. If anybody knows of anything matching that description better than this song right here, please let me know. Best after dark.
AC/DC’s “Moneytalks” (from 1990′s The Razors Edge)
Ending this mixtape on a random note…heard this for the first time in a great long while, and perhaps it’s just the junior high nostalgia playing tricks on me, but I’ll be damned if it’s not my new favorite AC/DC Song of the Moment. I’ll admit to not paying attention to the lyrics, but musically, no other bands have crafted so many great tunes using such relatively simple and few building blocks. So what if they’ve made the same album thirty seven times, there is subtle genius in the restraint of these riffs.
3/15/2013 Austin, TX @ Old Emo’s – Invisible Oranges Day Party w/ Today is the Day, Pallbearer, KEN Mode, Royal Thunder, Inter Arma, Baptists
3/17/2013 Baton Rouge, LA @ Mud & Water w/ Grave Robbers
3/18/2013 Lafayette, LA @ The Feed & Seed w/ Before the Eyewall, Guiltless
3/20/2013 Tallahassee, FL @ Hidden Hand w/ Attack Culture, Praying, Rovagug
3/21/2013 Athens, GA @ Little Kings w/ Pale Prophet
3/22/2013 Chapel Hill, NC @ Chapel Hill Underground w/ Backwoods Payback, Bitter Resolve
3/23/2013 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/ Sinister Haze, Backwoods Payback, Men’s Room
****We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
The latest inclusion in the Shredder’s Studio was inevitable. Kurt Ballou is no stranger to the Dec-faithful; he played on Hall of Fame and top album of the 00s certified masterpiece Jane Doe; laid down riffs on last year’s best record and helped close out our 100th issue party.
Mr. Ballou is writing the kinds of riffs that will end up on these lists in a decade, probably sooner. Without further accolades, here’s Kurt Ballou kindly telling us about the formative riffs that helped shape Coverge. If heaven exists, what would God say when Ballou arrived? How about “Converge fucking rules!”
Take it away, Kurt.
I think I went way overboard on this. I’m jet lagged and can’t sleep. Sorry. Anyway… here you go!
Link Wray – “Rumble”
This is one of the original “guitar riffs” and still one of the best.
Rush – “La Villa Strangiato”
Growing up, my friend’s big brother was a huge Rush fan and was constantly cranking it from his bedroom. He was probably smoking pot in there, not realizing we were on the other side of the wall just going “woah dude… this isn’t Iron Maiden!” I think hearing such a masterful use of odd-time signatures at age nine helped that sort of thing not feel at all strange to me as I started hearing it in other music as I got older. Plus their use of emphasized leading tones in their melodies had a huge influence on me as I started to write music.
The Meatmen – “French People Suck”
I don’t agree with the sentiment, but as a 12-year-old kid who was into Rush, I didn’t give a shit about punk, but I gave a shit about laughing, so I listened to The Meatmen. Eventually, the music started to grow on me and it became a gateway into other punk music.
Minor Threat – “Steppin’ Stone”
Yeah, this is a cover, but this is the first version I heard. As a novice guitarist, I was stoked to have a song that was actually within my ability level.
Quiet Riot – “Bang Your Head”
This riff makes me want to bang my head… I’m fucking serious!
Sonic Youth – “Mote”
I always loved Sonic Youth’s ability to be simultaneously melodic, heavy, and noisy. They, more than any other band, were the soundtrack to my high school days.
The Cult – “She Sells Sanctuary”
This is one of the first songs I ever learned that used droning guitars. It’s also one of the first things I learned that combined my love of classic rock, with my love of dark, brooding, Cure-esque melody. I’ve never looked back!
Slayer – “Live Undead”
I don’t care what anyone says, South Of Heaven is the best Slayer album. This song is just stupid heavy. That double bass part … HOLY SHIT … that was my “Through Silver and Blood” years before I heard of Neurosis. I remember falling asleep to this album every night, imagining this must be what it feels like to be a soldier in combat.
King Crimson – “21st Century Schizoid Man”
I was a saxophone-playing band geek in high school, but I skated and liked punk and metal too, so I didn’t really fit in anywhere. King Crimson was one of the first things I heard that appealed to both the pretentious nerd and the demented weirdo in me.
Van Halen – “Hot For Teacher”
No one can fuck with EVH’s riffs.
Born Against – “Well Fed Fuck”
This was a stand out track on this album for me. It was bluesy noise-rock with a groove amongst an album full of blistering fast hardcore. After all these years, it still makes me want to smash things.
Mountain – “Never In My Life”
This one is a favorite soundcheck riff at Converge shows.
Knut – “H/armless”
I remember hearing this for the first time, then seeing them play it live and just having my head torn off. How could an E mosh riff possibly be this heavy? The Converge song “You Fail Me” was partially inspired by this.
Entombed – “Chaos Breed”
Here’s where Converge stole a lot of “The Saddest Day” from.
Danzig – “Not of This World”
This has always been one of my favorite Danzig song. The riffs are super fun to play.
Deadguy – “The Extremist”
Deadguy and Rorschach were among the first bands in the 90′s to bridge the gap between metal and hardcore in a way that made sense. Most previous attempts, early Converge included, felt like a cheesy, cartoonish hybrid compared to this.
Edgar Winter – “Frankenstein”
One of the most classic riffs in rock … plus this live version rules. Notice Edgar Winter playing just about every instrument then doing a totally demented, trippy synth solo.
Descendents – “Van”
This song is so stupid, yet so infectious you can’t help but play it.
The Wipers – “No Generation Gap”
This one reminds me of an 80′s punk version of Link Wray’s “Rumble” – every bit as simple and every bit as infectious.
Jesus Lizard – “Then Comes Dudley”
Total cave-man riff. I like to imagine this song was played by a bunch of angry steel workers with hands too cramped up from forging steel all day to play anything more complicated.
Fugazi – “Break”
I always loved the two-guitar interplay in this band. This song is especially cool because in the intro, one guitar sounds like it’s playing drums and the other sounds like it’s playing piano. Then there’s some kind of Carribean part followed by a garage rock freak out. It’s simple and weird and totally fun to play. The best part is, the song ends before it has a chance to get boring.
Crom Tech – “II Men For Lord Dorpal”
Try to tab this… I dare you.
Spinal Tap – “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”
I don’t care if it’s a joke – it’s still a great riff!