Salute Ilia! How are you mate? Did Profound Lore Records already release new work of Indesinence “Vessels of Light And Decay”?
Hail Aleks! I’m OK, and I hope you are too. Indeed, the album came out two weeks ago. There were some setbacks because of delays from the pressing plant due to the packaging, but it’s good to finally have it out there.
Ilia, I remember that you were saying four years ago (when we did our previous interview) that at this moment the band had 6 or 7 new songs which might be included in “next” album. Well, here we have our “next” album – how long did you write stuff for it?
Song writing was constant; it just took a long time. Some of the material goes as far back as right after the “Noctambulism” sessions, whereas the last of the songs was finalized literally days before heading into the studio. Sometimes extremely intensive writing sessions were followed by weeks or even months of inactivity, in order to give the material space to breathe and for us to regain some perspective. Throughout this process we probably discarded at least three or four nearly completed songs, and re-wrote at least two others almost from scratch, keeping only part of the original riffs or structures. Also, the last song “Unveiled” was originally conceived as a clean guitar-only track, with no distorted guitar sections whatsoever. There is a lot of trial and error and a lot of experimentation with layers and tempos until things click in a way that feels just right, and it’s often an exhausting way to work, but it’s the only way we know how to, in order to offer our best. Songs really don’t take a linear and clearly defined route with Indesinence, because they are a direct result of our thoughts and experiences - and as such, they grow and develop together with us… with all the good and bad that this entails.
Are these emotions which you did put in the songs still current for you? What is main motive of “Vessels of Light And Decay”?
In a way, yes, because the songs usually capture the emotions and vibes that surround them at the time they are written and recorded, and hearing or performing them is like going back to some of those places… not always comfortable, but still necessary. The songs on this album touch on the inevitability of time, depression and awakening, the various passages and harsh lessons of life, and the common strife to overcome our self-imposed limitations and attempt leave our imprint on this world through our achievements, whatever the shape that they might take. It’s an album with a “cyclical” feel to it, and one that aims to convey a sense of gravity, but hopefully without taking itself too seriously. I guess that two albums that you could draw some parallels to thematically are Lou Reed’s “Magic and Loss” and Queen’s “Innuendo”; both of which I was coincidentally re-discovering a few months ago. Both Lou Reed and Mercury were top-league songwriters in their prime. “Magic and Loss” certainly has some of the best lyrics I have ever come across in Rock music, a huge all-time influence for me. I am not suggesting we could ever achieve something remotely in the same league, of course, but we can always try! If you are going to copy, you might as well do it from the best, hehehe…
What kind of changes did occur in the band during last 4 years?
The most important one, and the trickiest to overcome, was Chris James leaving the band. Chris loved the music we made together, and he was and remains our pal and brother, but I think the band was getting in the way of his personal happiness. It all became a bit too much for him at a certain point, all the logistical perks, and he already had enough on his plate, so he told us he’d taken time to think things through and would rather step out in amicable terms. Things looked very uncertain for a while, and to be honest I also entertained the thought of calling it a wrap, as I too had worries of my own to deal with. But the other guys had no doubt that they wanted to push on and complete what we’d started. Luckily our friend Andy McIvor from Code and Blutvial was up for stepping in on bass not long after, allowing John to switch to guitar. He was also already a fan, and quite familiar with the material. Chris was always going to be a tough act to take over from, as he is a master of the crushing riff as well as a true individual, but I feel Andy has done an admirable job of filling the gap in his own equally personal style. His bass playing is colourful and creative whilst retaining a very natural feel that sits well within our sound, and it takes the new material to really interesting places.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I feel that new Indesinence sounds even more aggressive, more powerful then it did on “Noctambulism” and “Neptunian” in 2006. Is it natural for you to hold this straightforward line through the years?
Life has a way of humbling one with some difficult moments as well as the good ones, and over the past few years we’ve all had some intense experiences, and not all of them were good. I think this album reflects that, in a sense that it is also a rawer, more poignant, bitter and “real” album, but still maintaining that balance between abject dread and rubbing one’s face against the mud, and the dreamier, more transcendental element. Making it was that little harder, in a sense that it captures a lot of the energy that has sometimes made our personal lives a challenge, but it also reflects a want for release and for communion with the listener, which was also present on previous works.
What is about instrumental part of new songs? Some of them sound torturing, some of them keep a primal human rage yet most of arrangements are quite complex and we could even say “progressive”.
You are not the first to say that, and I can agree to an extent that there is greater variety of atmospheres, textures and tempo shifts. This is important; because having a wide palette of ambiences and feelings really helps achieve a better impact… it is from the utmost heights that you better appreciate the lows, and vice versa. At the same time we feel there is probably a better sense of flow and transition between the various parts, both within each song and within the album as a whole. We also spent good time trying to ensure there was the best possible symbiosis between music, lyrics and imagery, and that the compositions flowed and developed in a way that had a resounding emotional impact within the listener, because I think music should really aim to move the listener and connect with them on some level.
“Vessels of Light And Decay” has 24-page booklet, man, it’s bloody lot for simple release. What did you want to show listeners of Indesinence with that posh edition?
Do you think so? I have quite a few CDs in my collection with booklets that extensive, if not more; we’re not the first band to do this. I think our choice of presentation is neither that uncommon nor particularly over-the-top, but I admit that both band and label consciously went into this with the intention of exploiting the format and making it as nice as possible for the buyer. The reason is quite simple: we are massive music fans ourselves, and we like nothing more than to engage all the way with a good record; and if you ask me, this is still only achievable when absorbing it via the physical medium. Sure, the music is anything but physical, but the actual experience of being a music enthusiast has always been naturally enhanced by multi-sensory stimuli. I don’t care what anyone says, there is a clear difference between just listening to music and being a music freak. The former is simply an act, but the latter is a state of being. So I guess this was basically our way of saying: yes, you can find a way of downloading this – whether you cannot afford to buy the album or simply don’t want to, we can’t stop that. However, you won’t be experiencing the album as a whole; only a portion of what really went into it, and a limited-quality portion at that. The visual and conceptual elements have always been integral to Indesinence, and this time we’ve been lucky to be in a position to work with extremely talented artists and an photographers, and their output is every bit as integral to “Vessels of Light and Decay” as the songs themselves. So anyone wanting to actually experience the album really needs to get either the CD or the LP, simple as that.
Would you like to have vinyl edition of your albums? It seems that this format is more suitable for stoner and traditional doom stuff, but death doom… well, why not?
As a matter of fact, “Neptunian” was already released on vinyl in 2011 with fully new artwork, and there are plans to do the same with “Vessels…” and “Noctambulism” in early 2013. For all three releases, we are working together with the killer Death Metal label Me Saco Un Ojo, which is run by a long-time friend of ours. For “Vessels…” we are keeping the same cover and images as the CD, but “Noctambulism” will feature fully new artwork by Timo Ketola. We are really excited about these releases. I think vinyl is a great format to release and listen to music in regardless of genre, but then I am biased because I simply love the format.
I think that “Vessels of Light And Decay” is better produced and I guess that it has another touch… Of course, it’s obvious Indesinence yet it’s another though I know that you did record new stuff again in studio of Greg Chandler (Esoteric) and he is the guy who keeps the standards of studio work very high always. What kind of differences do you see between your new and previous works?
I personally think the production jobs in “Noctambulism” and “Neptunian” still hold their own very well, even when putting aside the many difficulties that came with the recording and mixing of both releases. We certainly did the best we could with the tools we had. But I agree that working in two professional studios has made a difference this time. We recorded the drums with our mate Jaime Gomez at Orgone Studios in London, most other instruments with Greg at The Priory, and also a few overdubs and ambient sections at John’s home and mine, but everything we tracked went through The Priory’s mixing desk, which clearly makes a huge difference. Greg knows our sound well, and succeeded in combining punch and grittiness with a degree of clarity in the mix, which afforded the material an enveloping and timeless quality that was further enhanced by James Plotkin’s mastering job. We are really happy with it, all in all.
Ilia, you play in Esoteric and Pantheist besides Indesinence, how do differ methods of songs writing, rehearsing and working in studio in these three bands??
I actually left Pantheist at the start of 2011, due to lack of the necessary time and capacity that the band required at its current stage (this happened amicably, and I remain friends with the guys), and I have only ever been an occasional live member of Esoteric, stepping in for some shows where either Gordon or Kris could not travel, so I can only answer this partially. From what I could observe with Esoteric, each member tends to write songs individually at home and then bring them to the table, with everyone offering feedback and naturally adding their own flair in subsequent performances. I was never involved in writing or recording for them, but my understanding is that there is already a very clear idea of how each part is meant to sound by the time the band hit the studio, and a very meticulous work ethic, whereas there was perhaps more of a window for improvisational methods in their earlier days. Pantheist, on the other hand, has mostly always been Kostas’ brainchild; with him taking care of the lion’s share of the songwriting duties but always providing ample room for the incorporation of people’s ideas and nuances; he’s a great band leader in every sense: a clear idea of what he wants for each album, and always sufficient openness to outside input and balance, and a good eye for what works in each case. I did co-write some of the material on “Journey through Land Unknown” and wrote a couple of full songs on the latest album “Pantheist”, but always tried to do so on a “Pantheist” state of mind: trying to work within the musical and conceptual frame of the band and those albums, in a way that didn’t detract from their vibe. Out of the two recordings, “Journeys…” is perhaps the more psychedelic and experimental, whereas with “Pantheist” we had a more thought-out plan of how we wanted everything to sound, down to each little detail. Pre-production work, however, was equally intensive for both albums. With Indesinence, there is no method; only chaos, haha! It’s true; the recording of our music is always planned carefully and in as much detail as we can, but its composition is at the mercy of a random combination of time, circumstances and inspiration that happens differently every time. We honestly don’t know when the next Indesinence album will happen, or if there will even be one. If you enjoy “Vessels…” then squeeze the goodness out of it, because there is no guarantee that it will not be the last… right now, the overall feeling is that we want to create more, but who knows when, or what the future will bring.
We watched as Pantheist changes through the years, and its changes are cardinal as the band came from funeral doom through doom death and to original progressive stuff; we could say that Esoteric changes too yet not so fast as it seems; but what can you say about Indesinence? How does band’s evolution go?
Because the songs and ideas develop together with us as people, there is no calculated plan at all to evolve one way or another. Of course there always needs to be an element of control, and we are careful with every idea, in terms of assessing whether it fits with the band’s ethos and with its present, but a very large part of what makes our songs is, literally, beyond our grasp: we summon a certain feel that we want to convey and share with the receiver, and we then become the vessels through which said feel manifests itself in the form of sound and words. It’s no different from a painter subconsciously choosing certain colors or shapes for a composition, or any other artform – I think the most honest expression requires a significant degree of letting yourself go, abandoning yourself to both your inner muse and the continuum of creation.
Man, I see that you started another band not too long ago, I mean Binah. How do you find time and energy to bring doom and death through all these bands?
I just don’t, hehehe – which is why I had to step out of Pantheist and rein things down on live collaborations with other bands; it was becoming really hard to keep up with everything and still invest the time that the new Indesinence album required. One must always put quality before ego, and something had to give. As for Binah, it was really Andy/Aort who was the main catalyst, and it is a much more low-key and relaxed affair overall. The Binah album was recorded at our homes in our own time before there were even any labels involved. We have also chosen not to make it a live band. So it is a very different experience to us in that sense, as it is quite removed from the dynamics of a more “full-time” endeavor.
Binah released its first album in 2012, its name “Hallucinating In Resurrecture”, what kind of album it is?
It is an album of pure Death Metal, plain and simple. Andy and I have both been fans of this music for the past 20 years, and each of us has always wanted to be part of a record such as this. I guess the right moment hadn’t materialized until now. Andy had an album’s worth of ideas in demo form, and asked me if I wanted to help out in realizing them into actual songs. Originally I was only going to contribute vocals, but I ended up recording half of the lead guitar work and some synths and ambient arrangements as well. We were also lucky to find the perfect drummer in A. Carrier; his style is a great fit, with the perfect balance between old and current. He is also a multi-instrumentalist with an open mind; always an asset. Inspiration for Binah came from bands we’ve been listening to over the years, such as Demigod, Abhorrence, Cartilage, Adramelech, Macabre End, early Therion, Mordicus, Desultory, etc. The overall feeling we sought was a combination of the atmosphere and sense of melodic development of the Finnish, Swedish and central-European bands, with the evil and swampiness of US classics such as Incantations or Autopsy, to create an album that paid due homage to the Death Metal spirit without becoming a mere regurgitation of the sound on auto-pilot. We wanted the album to come alive with occult energy. Hopefully we managed this, and listening to it will bring as much satisfaction to Death Metal maniacs as making it did to us.
Ilia, what do you feel playing your music live? What kind of energies does flow through you during gigs? And is there difference if you play your songs or songs that composed someone else?
It really depends on the gig and the conditions. A good show with the right atmosphere is an experience like few others. A perfect communion is established with the audience; the musician absorbs the energy of each and every person present, who in turn feels that the music is happening for them alone. It works both on a visceral and a subconscious level, and the timeless force of rock and roll is unleashed… just pure raw energy. It is a very powerful experience for everyone, a great feeling when everything clicks in the right places. I have greatly enjoyed playing both the material I’ve written or co-written, and other people’s compositions. They might feel like different things to begin with, but after a while you can become very familiar with someone else’s composition to the point where you also feel it as your own – just as easily as you can sometimes forget your own songs if you stop performing them for long enough! I guess it largely depends on the level of connection you establish with each song to begin with.
That’s all Ilia, thank you for your time and for this conversation. I wish you all the best man, if you have something to say to our readers and your listeners then it’s right time and place. Good luck!
Thank you again Aleks, and a massive hails to anyone else who’s supported the band throughout these years; cheers for bearing with us!
Words: Aleks Evdokimov
Profound Lore Records