It’s been five years since Seputus released last album Man Does Not Give, but the band’s members have been busy. All three members— drummer/guitarist/composer Stephen Schwegler, vocalist Doug Moore and bassist Erik Malave—are also members of cacophonous tech death outfit Pyrrhon; Moore and Schwegler also play in Weeping Sores and Moore finds time to front NYC death metallers Glorious Depravity in his excess downtime.
In those five years, Seputus wrote and completed another album to be delivered to listeners this spring as Phantom Indigo. In keeping with Schwegler’s other projects, Phantom Indigo takes a hard left into weirdo territory; on the title track, streaming below, Seputus dive headfirst into psychedelia and dissonance via black/death metal.
“Phantom Indigo” isn’t as hard to digest as something like Pyrrhon, but one often gets the feeling that the members of Seputus might let the song spin out of control until they yank it back in at the last second. At its core, the bulldozing death metal of bands like Immolation can be heard but Seputus take it so much further. The insanity is only multiplied with the inclusion of Replicant guitarist Pete Lloyd, who specializes in dissonant, Gorguts-esque death metal.
Schwegler delves into the song and album’s origins, or perhaps he muddies the waters even further. Either way, it’s a fitting explanation for the song.
“There’s a story Oliver Sacks wrote in his book Hallucinations about seeing the color ‘indigo,'” he tells Decibel. “I’d read an excerpt from the chapter ‘Altered States’ where he talks about it. Afterward, I became kind of obsessed with the idea of willing your frame of mind into a different state of consciousness. The stream of negative bullshit in my head was prominent at the time, so sometimes I’d look at everyday things in life more abstractly to seek distraction. I would drive and stare at license plates and signs to rearrange the letters and numbers in my head into different patterns. I estimated the distance of telephone poles, thought about their positions in relation to other things on the street or how far they could carry electricity.
“I listened to the thrumming sounds of air conditioners, mowers and generators. I heard musical tones and pitches. Thought about how they sounded together. These thoughts and images are where the original guitar riffing and drum ideas came from. The song came from that idea of ‘zoning’ my mind. I figure if I can just get myself sucked into something hard enough, I’ll spend less time worrying about abstract shit that I can’t do anything about and let it fade into the background. I described these feelings to Doug and he was familiar with them. He fleshed out these ideas with his own experiences, and his lyrics really captured another dimension of the same feelings.”