Dread Soacked Sonics [2010-07-30]Luasa Raelon mixes up a horror themed sonic brew of dark ambience, blacked cinematic’s & death industrial along with elements of noise matter and retro electronica to the build a dark & heady brew. The projects been in existence since 2001 and it’s all the work of Columbus USA based David Reed who kindly agreed to give me an interview via email.
m[m]how and when did luasa raelon come about? is it your first musical project & were does the unusual name come from?
David I have been involved in other projects over the years. Before I started the solo work, I was active in a large ensemble working with game theory pieces, improvisation, and works composed by the various members. I started doing the solo work in 2000 as an extension of the compositional and improvisational techniques learned through the group combined with my new-found interest in the noise genre, this turning to the more dark and industrial idioms that I am now working in.
I had originally titled the project differently before I had internet access. When I finally got around to checking the name's use online, I found out that it was being used by several other entities. I decided that I would create a name so I wouldn't have any future problems. The name luasa raelon is supposed to represent some kind of Lovecraftian place, to evoke something from the distant past maybe or at least from somewhere else (where the various stories told in the releases tend to occur?).
m[m] Your most recent album Vampyr: Light Of The Beast focus in very much on vampires- what made you decided to use this as a theme? David For Vampyr, I had in mind the classic black-and-white horror movies. I wanted to impart that feel of mystery and the atmosphere of dread and sorrow. Those old movies didn't use gore to get the point across, they worked on developing a feeling and maintaining a certain tone rather than relying on raw fear. I had a story in mind and using this as the framework for the album, began working on tracks to represent the various scenes/chapters in the story. And the story isn't fully-realized, more of an outline that I used as a guide to organize and cohere the individual tracks into one unified work. I find inspiration for the outline and the scenes from a variety of sources: movies, books, artists, video games, and other music.
m[m] Vampyr: Light Of The Beast seems to use quite a bit of analogue sounding synth textures- was it difficult to get hold of more analogue electronics?
David No. There are a few new options for analogue synth available and a few years ago, I was slowly acquiring older analogue synths through ebay. I am not sure how viable it would be to do so now seeing how the prices for them have gotten to be far too much within the last couple years. It all comes down to money really. But there are quite a few new options out there if you start looking. I also use a couple oscillator boxes made by King Capitol Punishment which see a ton of action when I record luasa raelon material.
m[m] What are some of your favourite Vampire stories or films?
David Well Dracula is a very good book of course, Bram Stoker really outdid himself on it. The rest of his work doesn't quite measure up to it, although "The Lair Of The White Worm" has to be one of the most strange novels I have read. "Carmilla" by Le Fanu is another one. It has some really good imagery and odd dialogue in it. There is a film version of Dracula made at the same time as the one with Lugosi done for Mexico and in my opinion, is the superior to the English version. I would definitely say to check it out. The original "Noferatu" is a must-see. I also have to say all those Hammer movies were very influential-anything with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee involved. Cleveland had this awesome indy channel which showed all kinds of older horror and sci-fi movies when I was growing-up, so I had a steady diet of those throughout my childhood. As for something newer, "Let The Right One In" is solid.
m[m] I really felt at times Vampyr: Light Of The Beast brought to mind a simlar atmosphere to Werner Herzog’s 1979 take on the vampire story 'Nosferatu the Vampyre'- are you a fan of the film & Popol Vuh’s great soundtrack?
David I am a very big fan of that movie and Herzog's work in general. I can't recall the soundtrack...I do love all those 70's euro synth artists. As I got more and more into synthesis, I started delving further back and broadening the scope of my listening and found I really enjoyed that work. The Herzog movie is straight killer. I have to watch that again soon. I loved so much of the imagery, especially the town over-run by the vampire and plague.
m[m]Your previous album to Vampyr: Light Of The Beast 2008’s The House Of Flesh had quite a noise edge to it; in places- do you think you’d ever do an all out noise release with luasa raelon? David I did an all-out noise work for a fest I was in last spring and have been wanting to continue doing it. The project I started for that fest is called Tears and I have been trying to set aside some time to record material. Harsh noise is what got me involved in this to begin with and I have fun doing it, so doing an old-school noise project is a no-brainer. The difficulty is that there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.
David To answer your question... I use noise formal elements when I feel that the material warrants it for a luasa raelon release. For Vampyr, I didn't have that in mind. I wasn't hearing noisier textures and the story wasn't demanding them, so they weren't utilized. One of the ideas for Unholy Mountain is a straight noise track representing an entity that I plan on having make appearances over the course of subsequent tracks. So there will be noise in the future for luasa raelon but not a total noise release under that banner.
m[m]clearly your work is hugely influenced by horror movies in general- so what are your ten favourite horror films of all time & why?
1.The Beyond. My favorite Fulci movie and has served as direct inspiration for my work.
3.Alucarda- I love this movie, so much oddity and such memorable imagery
4.Nosferatu (Herzog's version)
5.Vampyr- this is THE film most reminiscent of a nightmare to me.
7. The Descent- I felt that I had nothing recent on the list, and this one is my favorite recent horror flick.
8. The Shining-this movie scared me so much as a kid and I still love it. Also has a great soundtrack
9. Halloween III-this movie rules and the soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time.
David I don't know if I want to give detailed explanations on why each of the above has made the ranks so here is an overview. Each of them has had an inspiration on my work for one. Quite of few of the above have a dream-state continuity to them that I absolutely love. Each movie warrants multiple viewings for me and each one works extremely well as a horror movie by building tension and working with the unknown or unreal; there is a mystery there and a state of dread that is maintained and capitalized on throughout the film. I think they all have great stories that keep me interested and an originality that sets them apart from other movies in the genre. A good story and good direction does so much more for me than a person walking around and killing people for an hour and a half in various grotesque ways. And I do know that some from the list can be considered sci-fi but I would argue that they are horror movies in a science fiction setting. Horror in the future is still horror.
m[m] Have you ever wanted to re-soundtrack a film & if so which?
David YES. Would love to do a soundtrack to Alucarda. I actually have plans to do this and have been thinking about it but it will be a big project and finding the time to dedicate to this has been tough.
m[m] You clearly a big fan of Lovecraft- have you any favourite stories and any you’d like to soundtrack? David As for HPL: "At The Mountains Of Madness", "The Horror At Red Hook", "Imprisoned With The Pharaohs", "What The Moon Brings", "Dreams In The Witch House", and "The Shadow Out Of Time".
Also been checking out the authors carrying on the Lovecraft tradition. I came across the Encyclopedia Cthulhiana and that led me to reading Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Lord Dunsany, and August Derleth plus there a several more authors I would like to explore.
David And I have been steadily reading selections from the Wordsworth series, Tales Of Mystery & The Supernatural. They are pretty cheap and easy to find. I run across them at the discount book store all the time. They aren't always the greatest but worth checking into I believe, as I have run across several very good authors like Bierce, LeFanu, Broster, and Bowen as a result.
And to bring this to the present day, I want to point out Bentley Little. He is definitely my favorite current author working in the horror genre. I read a ton of horror fiction and adding yet another list to this interview would be a little much, my suggestion is do what I do and grab things from the library that catch my attention.
m[m] When was the last time your were truly scared? And where’s the creepiest & most un-nerving place you’ve ever visited?
David Hmmmm. The only time recently was narrowly missing being in a bad car-wreck. That was pretty frightening. I wrecked a car a long time ago and that was not fun at all. When I was a kid, I would get very frightened of really intense horror-movies, intense meaning "Night Of The Living Dead", "The Shining", and I remember a Friday the 13th one scaring me. Ghosts and hauntings were a serious matter when I was young. I did have one unexplained occurrence with something scratching and growling outside my bedroom door that was frightening. And I took the possibility of ghosts and malignant entities seriously. Now this is when I was young, but I can still recollect how I felt and draw from it to inform my work.
I can't think of a creepy place and have been thinking about this for a few days since reading the question. It has made me realize I need more of encounters with the unusual.
David There was a place that did come to mind that has been inspirational but doesn't really answer your question. Since I brought it up, I feel I should elaborate:
I used to ride a bike around quite a bit a few years ago and I encountered what became my favorite destination. This was a blocks-long empty warehouse complex that served a grocery chain which suddenly went out of business, and you could tell as there were signs in various areas and booths that one day everyone just up and left. There were personal items lying around, a truck overgrown with weeds, several clocks around, etc. The area this complex was in was fairly deserted once you got off the main road so the only signs of humanity would be a jet arcing overhead. It seemed devoid of all life except insects and I never interacted with another person all the times I was there. The whole experience was post-apocalyptic. Once I moved, I quit going and now the area has unfortunately been developed. Nothing good lasts forever.
I can tell you the creepiest thing I have seen lately. When one of my cats is in a deep dream-state, her eyes will half open so you can see her eyes rolling around while that membrane is sliding over her eyes and then retracting, her paws and muzzle will twitch, sometimes her mouth will be a little open with her tongue just poking out. It is fucking creepy and will go on for a bit, then she will wake and be her normal cat self.
David I think that one can find mystery in the most natural situations like with my cat or the warehouse. Once minute you are in your normal state of reality and then you cross over into the unreal and have this new experience that can be very inspirational. Being out in the deep woods at night can be a very mysterious or even scary experience. The same goes for heavy thunderstorms and especially tornadoes. Tornadoes are a very scary thing: seeing them on TV doesn't begin to convey their power. My hometown was hit when I was little and it was total devastation. When those sirens start up warning of a possible tornado, there is a mixture of apprehension and exhilaration in my mind that is not normal operating procedure.
m[m] Do you ever perform live with luasa raelon? And if so what sort of set-up do you have?
David Yes. Now it is very very occasionally. I did a fair amount of playing around the midwest and did a couple tours before focusing more on envenomist as a live entity and only doing studio work with luasa raelon. Recently, I have been working on live material with luasa raelon and will be doing more shows. I played a set for the first time in over two years last spring and am playing at the Milwaukee noise fest in September.
m[m] Can you tell us how you think your two other projects Brittle Foundries & Envenomist differ from luasa raelon?
David Envenomist is done using only synthesizers as my sound source, there is no over-arching narrative that is used to provide the framework for the releases, and I think it has become more melodic and more influenced by the 70's euro synth artists. There has always been a heavy industrial influence with Envenomist and I have always used a set of compositional ideas I derived from Morton Feldman. When constructing an Envenomist track, I utilize a certain set of slowly evolving parameters that define the Envenomist sound and also constrain this sound to certain boundaries. With luasa raelon, I don't have those constraints. I am trying to convey a specific idea and whatever it takes to give it form, I use. In my mind, that is a very big difference between the two projects.
I think of brittle foundries as my academic/ambient project. It is more based on sampling and classical music (or to be highbrow, western art music) than the other two projects. I think of its sound being less dark but can still get very depressive and introspective. Well at least that is my perception. I try to convey certain moods with the pieces. There can be a lyricality that is absent in my other work. Giancarlo Toniutti, Jeff Greinke, and Stapleton have all been big influences when I think of brittle foundries.
David And it is not like all the projects are independent entities. There is crossover, some overlap but I still have definite ideas on how they each operate and how they are different from one another and hope I helped at least a little in presenting that.
m[m] In 2002 you formed the Snip-Snip record label- why did you decide to do this? And have you any new releases come out on the label? David I wanted to release my material and other people whose work I felt needed to be heard. Snip-Snip Records is now in hibernation. The label being on CDr format and with the package concept was from a certain period that I feel has gone its way. I don't have any plans to release works on Snip-Snip in the future but as one of my intents was having the releases be unlimited as a reaction to the limited nature of products in this scene, I will still accept the odd order here-and-there.
My new label is Fatal Beliefs and it is focusing on pro-format releases of mainly my work with a focus on smaller editions utilizing strong visuals. I would like to get other people on the label sooner than later; but as of right now, it is CD's or vinyl of my solo work or projects that have my involvement
m[m] What’s next for luasa raelon? And have you any ideas/ concepts for a new album yet?
David Two limited edition works.
One on Crucial Blaze entitled Unholy Mountain. I am still in the production stages of this; working on how I want it to sound and working out a framework to base it on. Been reading various esoteric books recently as research.
The others on Housepig entitled Born To Burn. Working on this one having a older sound to it and it dealing with witchcraft. Not the pagan religon being currently practiced. More the classic perception of what a witch is, and reading a few books by Murray and Summers for inspiration and listening to a lot of the classic CMI material and thinking along those lines when composing the pieces.
Thanks to David for his time and effort with the interview and supplying the pictures( the two live pictures are taken by Mark Solotroff). Check out Luasa Raelon site here.Roger Batty