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Darkland Mapping [2009-06-21]

British Dark & psychedelic electronica duo Formication boil up a mind altering sound that sits somewhere between Coil & Autechre. Since their first officially release in the form of 06 Icons of a new religion the projects sound has come on in leaps and bounds to create a more disturbing and more distict sound that has acuminated in last years splendid & brain frying album Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium). Both Alec & Kingsley kind agreed to give me an email interview.

m[m]How did you both meet & what made you decided to form Formication? And where does the bands name come from?                                                                   Alec We’d known each other for two years before we even thought of attempting to make music. When we did, we couldn’t understand why it hadn’t happened years ago. Formication rose from fighting those familiar feelings of wasting your life for a faceless finance company, and the desperation to reclaim lost hours by distilling boredom and missed opportunities. Creating music is a very satisfying way to achieve this and it is still working for us.

m[m]Where either of you involved with music before Formication?                                                           Alec I was. I was! My grandfather was a musician and an early memory that I treasure is him buying a tiny white casio keyboard that had a feature called ‘one key play’ which I loved and me playing along with him on his huge Hammond/Leslie.
Kingsley I wasn’t.

m[m]As you've developed over you relative short & prolific career you seemed to have deepened and twisted your sound more & more, with your recent Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) reaching unparallel heights of sonic panic and paranoia- have you changed equipment along the way or are you just homing in more and more on pitches & tones that upset the human mind?                                      Alec We constantly experiment with all kinds of equipment. If we find something that makes a nice (or dreadful) noise then we’ll use it to the full. It is a simple as that. We hear incredible sounds everywhere and couldn’t possibly utilize all of them, there are too many; it’s overwhelming sometimes. So, it’s less to do with the equipment per se and more about being able to twist sounds beyond all possible recognition. We want to create an atmosphere and a response from and a place for the listener, hopefully that’s somewhere they’ve not been before. Whether they go again, stay or ever come back is up to them, but we’re happy to have been the guide. We make so much of this music that we simply don’t know what to do with it all. 

m[m]Talking about Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium)- can you tell us a bit about the concept behind the album & how did you come about creating the book that comes with the ltd edition version on the album?                           Alec Ghosts was the result of a life threatening mountaineering expedition to Helvellyn in the Lake District. We spent a week there with our families in 90 mile an hour winds. As happened with our ‘The Untitled Wasdale Recordings’ we seem to have engaged with the environment and drawn inspiration from it, channeling the electrical energy and sense of place to create the music you hear on the album. The pictures in the book are photographs we took at time along with field notes and comments.

m[m]Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) was originally performed near Greenside Mine At the foot of Helvellyn. Why did you chose this location & have you recorded before outside & how do you go about powering you equipment?                                                             Alec We chose this location for its dramatic geography. The only way to produce these kinds of records is to immerse oneself in the landscape, and the best way to do that is to experience the scenery from within. We have a battery powered Edirol R1 with an 8GB memory so we can record something like 16 hours of 24bit .wav anywhere. This means that we can capture environmental sounds from any source. Using our laptops (which of course also have microphones built in that give surprising results if you are only patient) and a USB cable, we then have access to as many drum noises and synth bleeps as we would have in our underground home studio. The feeling of being a part of the natural world, being connected to a mountain tarn by cables inspired us a great deal.

m[m] Do you ever perform live?- if so can you tell us a bit about your set up live- are there any visual ect?            Alec We are playing live in Nottingham on the 19th March 2009 supporting Nadja. These appearances are rare, difficult to organize, painfully badly attended and often under appreciated by both ourselves and the audience, but for no reason at all we can understand, we persist.

Ha! We wrote that answer before the gig. In fact, it was rather busy and some people even clapped. We played guitar, stylophone, Sonica and horn and made a right racket for an hour. It went well. We’ll do it more.

m[m]When you play live do you just jam out and make noise/ atmosphere or do you play songs note for note?
Alec  We do both. Re-workings of studio pieces for live instruments are challenging to learn and satisfying to play and watch, but we forsake this moral high ground and use laptops to 'just make noise' sometimes. The results are fun and laptops are now bona fide musical instruments for good reason. We like to think that our audiences enjoy the sound and look of our shows whichever style we employ but we remain convinced that the sound, not the medium, is the message

m[m]Are you influenced by films, books or other forms of art in the making of your work- if so list the five things you think have influenced/ had the most effect on you?       Alec
1) Dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauruses, internet. (‘wordplay’)
2) Autechre’s live shows (‘darkness is good’)
3) Our jaded, unfulfilled teenage years (‘nature’)
4) Public information films (‘the charred corpse in the power station’)
5) Desolate, abandoned, alone and forsaken places (‘the spirit of…’)

m[m]With the book that accompanies Ghosts (Omnia Exeunt in Mysterium) your becoming more interesting in visuals- have you ever thought of making videos or short films to accompany your work?                                     Alec We are in the process of creating filmic works to accompany our music, possibly in a live setting. Of course, we embrace the visual arts and have always created our own album art, gig posters, flyers and films.

m[m]What are you working on now?
Alec A release for Small Doses, entitled ‘The Eyes of Erodern Reviema’ and a release for The Centrifuge entitled ‘Dr Umens’. We don’t have dates for these releases yet, but it will hopefully be before the end of 2009. We think you’ll enjoy them both.

m[m] Both the new release have rather intriguing titles- what are there origin & what sound wise can we expect on both the new releases?                                            Alec The origins of everything we do are hard to pin down as we've already failed to explain well. The titles are no different. Our work is what it is, and we name it accordingly. We are not trying to be difficult by stating this; simply put, that is the name of the work! We could make up stories about how we inhale dead bees and eat poison cake until our eyes leak and the titles of our tracks shine down to us, reflected stars through glass onto the mirror of our souls but we prefer to be honest. We spend lots of time crafting our work and the setting of the song takes some of this time. Any further explanation than that would bore you to read far more than it would bore me to write.

We are glad you find them intriguing and we confess that we do as well.Both intriguing and confessions are good for the soul.

Thanks to both Alec & Kingsley for the interview. The band website can be found here & their my space is here.

Roger Batty
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