maus Music Review - Distorted Memory - Swallowing the Sun

Swallowing the Sun is a new dense world of Dark Electro. It is lush and atmospheric. Rich with tribal beats and ethnic chants. Eerie and dark, and thick with distortion in a beautifully decaying way. Opening track ‘Awake Sleeping Giants’ blossoms with a seethingly slow wave of development that progresses like crawling death, and tumbles you into the album as a near perfect intro. 'Black fields’ is a great official opener, fulfilling the craving for brooding and intense dark electro. This Hocico-like track is a tense sludge ballad. The album flows unpredictably into several types of dancefloor music and ranges across many tempos. Most have a staple galloping synth, and are decorated with vibrant intros that remind of ancient tribes and forbidden rituals. The conceptual tribal influence doesn’t kick in for a few songs, but once it does - the creepy chanting and tribal beats pull this album into another world, as evidenced by tracks such as 'Nomads’ and the crunchy 'Yahweh’. 'Hand of God’ (and the Die Sektor mix at the end of the album) are riveting, and driving with well developed texture and synthlines. Several of the tracks are exceedingly hard and fast ('Seven Voices of Hate’, 'Prey’) and provide fantastic listening.

'Silence’ and 'Swallowing the Sun’ deliver you right into the jungle with the sound of a rainstorms, drum beats and mysterious wailing from some far off land that may have never existed. Every track on this short album is great.. ending nicely with the violent and satisfying 'Raven Eyes’ and 'Yahweh’ an ominous tune that sounds like a sacrificial progression. I wish the album were longer.

This album is a must for fans of Hocico, AkitveHate, Alien Vampires, This Morn Omina, Ah Cama Sotz.. Elements of Harsh Electro and tribal dance infusion. Brilliant and engaging. I give this a solid A.

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Distorted Memory, for me is a very influential band not only for my own music, but for many others I know. The sound is very distinct, and different from a lot of music out there right now - very broadly influenced. “Burning Heaven” was a pretty pinacle album that I definitely think you should revisit. “Swallow The Sun” (2011) however, is a groundbreaking album. It combines a lot of tribal and rhythmic sounds, which I usually am not a fan of in industrial, and a very raw aggression that is presented perfectly by the images of the album. I had the great opportunity to work with Jeremy on my latest EP, and I can honestly say it is a spectacular remix, and was a spectacular experience overall. I had the opportunity to catch him via email this week, and he specifically requested some obscure questions, siting that he is bored to death of your regular-I-dont-listen-to-your-music-really interviews! I did not disappoint. This is a fan interview for fans. 

Interview: Distorted Memory

Swallowing the Sun was a very different album, both in theme and general style, than Burning Heaven –What were some of the thematic or literary influences for Swallowing the Sun?

This should be an easy question to answer, but it’s not, simply because Swallowing the Sun was written over such a long period of time (4 years). So the influences weren’t specific, over that time there were many different ones, some that I probably can’t recall at this point. But I think the biggest underlying theme or idea that was running through my head during writing was in regards to the destruction of our planet. The album isn’t an obvious “save the planet” type hippy album, but most of the songs do center around the notion that we are headed in a direction that we may not be able to turn back from in regards to how we treat the earth. In a way Burning Heaven had a similar theme, but it was more hidden in anti-religious metaphor. As far as literary influence goes the work of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris always play a role in my life and my music.

The vocal style is also much different on Swallowing the Sun, much more raw sounding – How did you come to this new style and do you think that you will continue to use it on future Distorted Memory releases?

It pretty much started with live shows. I decided early on that I wouldn’t be able to match the vocal processing used on Burning Heaven in a live situation. It would leave too much room for potential feedback issues. I also don’t like the idea of live vocalists drowning themselves in effects. So when we started performing that material live I decided to strip down the effects to just a little pitch modulation and delay. By doing this I was forced to create more of the distorted, evil tones with my own voice. After doing this for a while my keyboardist at the time said to me that the next album should have vocals similar to the live stuff. When it came time to record the albums vocals the new member, Tim, was brought in and it was his job to record and engineer the vocals. He comes from a rock background and pretty much flat out said that he didn’t want to do anything with lots of effects. So from there we started experimenting with getting the tone we wanted just by using different microphones, preamps, and my own voice. I am pretty happy with the result, and the new direction. I don’t think it was perfect on Swallowing the Sun, so the next album will continue in this vein but will be even more refined.

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What one piece of hardware do you think is critical to your studio set up?

Well avoiding the obvious computer, audio interface, monitors answer I’d have to say the NI Maschine. Although it is technically software with a controller, that controller has proved to be my most valuable piece of kit lately. My studio has seen many different hardware synths go through it over the years, most of which only stay for a while until I realize that I only had gear lust for them and they weren’t actually that important to my creativity. Of all the synths I’ve owned over the past decade (Virus C, Virus TI, Blofeld, V-Synth, MS2000, Waldorf XTK, and a bunch more not worth naming) the only ones that have stayed as permanent fixtures are the two Viruses. However the NI Maschine won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It got a lot of use on Swallowing the Sun. All of the percussion was programmed on it. It was especially useful when creating all of the tribal percussion on the album, which I programmed myself, no loops were used. I don’t think I would have been able to create realistic world percussion using only a midi editor.

Secondarily to the last question, what hardware would you most like to get, if money were not an issue?

Well if money wasn’t an issue, if I won the lottery for example, the first thing I would buy is a Euphonix System 5-MC…but running at over $100,000 I don’t think that will happen anytime soon :) I need to start writing more commercially viable music.

You recently went to the US for your first show at the Cyber Genetic Winter Festival in Texas – What are some differences between Canadian audiences and American Audiences?

I can’t say that there really were any huge differences. I can say though that it was amazing to see so many people from so far away going crazy to our songs and singing along to all the words. Actually there is one big difference between American and Canadian audiences, the Americans are hilariously paranoid about smoking weed and getting caught. In Canada no one thinks about that, if you want to smoke a joint you go outside and have one with the other people smoking cigarettes. Not that I am a big smoker, but I always find it funny when people at a show are “looking for a place to smoke”….only in America.

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What additions would you make, again if money were not a factor, to the live show?

I would love to have a dedicated light technician, video technician, and costume designer. The video technician is something that will probably actually happen if we do a road tour, the only thing stopping it at this point is that it is too expensive to add another person for fly in shows. If money was not an option I would find and hire whoever is the art director / costume designer for Fever Ray as they are making use of a similar aesthetic that I envision for Distorted Memory.

What is the most influential live show you have ever seen?

Ever? Well there are a few that stand out. Austra and Peaches are two big ones for me. But the number one is as far removed as you can get from industrial music. Leonard Cohen, to this day it is the best performance I have ever seen. It also taught me a lot about what it means to be a performer. In the same respect all the bands I’ve ever seen that don’t play the songs you are expecting to hear have taught me not to do that. It is our job to play the music people want to hear, not just the newest stuff that we ourselves are currently enjoying. I don’t care how sick I get of songs from Burning Heaven, I will always play a few because I know there are people in the crowd wanting to hear them.

When you aren’t making music, or working the day job, what other hobbies do you have?

I think %90 of my time not at work, or producing is taken up by listening to music. I have a sick addiction to music. I spend a questionable amount of time searching out new music If I don’t find something new every few days I go crazy. Aside from that I enjoy cooking. I grew up in a typical Ukrainian family where food=life=love and this has always stuck with me. My wife is a vegan, and I am a farm boy who loves meat so I have learned to be a very creative and efficient cook. I also spend a lot of time watching movies, and tv series that I like…and way too much time doing nothing productive on the internet.

What was the first industrial CD you ever bought?

I actually remember this, Skinny Puppy – Bites and Remission. I was maybe 12 years old and I often listened to this experimental radio show on the CBC where they played stuff like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and some early industrial. Anyway, I was in a used CD store and saw this Skinny Puppy disc, I hadn’t heard their music but recognized the name because it was mentioned on that radio show, so I bought it. I still remember coming home and putting it on. From the first seconds of that disc to the very last I sat in awe. My life was changed forever.

Do you go out to clubs often, and if so, what are your views on current “dance hits” within the scene?

Almost never. Mostly because the Industrial night here, which can barely be called an industrial night, is so sad that I can’t be bothered to go. I am really not interested in hearing Marilyn Manson, NIN, Rob Zombie, VNV track from seven years ago, rinse repeat on my saturday nights…. If we had a club night on par with some of the bigger cities I would probably go more often, but even then maybe not because I am not really that into “club” music. I am a pretentious music snob. I’d rather sit at home with a beer and listen to some Legendary Pink dot’s on vinyl through my disgustingly overpriced audiophile set up :) I will be really happy if industrial ever returns to it’s roots and starts bringing some art back to the music. Hard house died in 2000, but unfortunately it’s lifeless zombified remains stay strong in the EBM scene.

If you could re-score any movie, in your own style, what movie would you choose?

That’s tough, do I pick a movie that I love but has a score I do not like? Or a movie that has a score I love, but I would also like to work on? I am going to say The Last Temptation of Christ simply because it is one of my favorite scores of all time and I would like to challenge myself to live up to that standard.

What new releases are you currently listening to?

Lot’s, but since I just compiled a list of my favorite 2011 releases I’ll give you that:
1. Austra - Feel It Break

2. Of The Wand & The Moon - The Lone Descent

3. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
4. Gazelle Twin - The Entire City

5. oHgr - unDeveloped

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. We are looking forward to future Distorted Memory releases and more US shows!


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