Sleep Of Ages & Carrion Black Pit Interview [2012-11-21]Sleep Of Ages & Carrion Black Pit are two of the most creative & original noise projects to appear on the world wide scene in the past few years- Sleep Of Ages mixes up: Harsh noise, Melodic yet seared experimental electronica, blown out electro sounding tracking and HNW dwells. And Carrion Black Pit summon up a creative & horror bound take on HNW & ANW. Behind both projects is São Paulo, Brazil based Elias C, and he kindly agreed to give M[m] an email interview.
m[m]:What first got interested in experimental music in genreal & is there any one release that made you want to start making your own noise?
Elias Well, it was a journey more than anything, from listening to my dad´s Kraftwerk LP´s, then getting into hard rock, punk rock and heavy metal. I was never the kind of listener that got locked in some genre, I didn't really fit with the (small) metal-head community back in my town because I didn't cared for melodic metal and I was listening to punk rock and industrial rock which was not cool to them. I always felt more inclined to like the underdogs, and the notion of "underdog" gets evolved/refined with time. At first it was only the fact that I was actively listening to music, then rock music, then punk, then the heavier stuff, then it started to get weirder and weirder... Noise is not something I fell in love at first sight. It took me some years to absorb it, I kept coming back to it but was always frustrated. It only really "hit the spot" after I got acquainted with Italian horror soundtracks (Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, et al), electronic music (Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares, industrial rock...) and then Foetus, SPK and The Residents. Only after a long phase of listening to Residents, 60´s garage punk and proto metal, I listened to Merzbow "Pulse Demon" and it blew me away. Things started to make sense. Incapacitants, Guilty Connector, LeftHandDecision and others further helped me really going down on it, and making my own experiments with noise sealed the pact. Nofx made want to start making music, Goblin made want to start making electronic music, Merzbow and The Rita got me into making noise.
m[m]:Tell us a little bit about how Sleep Of Ages came about; is it your first sonic project & what’s the origin of the name?
Elias The name was made up as a possible name for my thrash band. I really liked it, but my wife thought it sounded a little cheesy at the time. Also, it made me think of doom or stoner metal more than thrash. Thrash´s not really about sleeping a lot, you know? Then, I started making noise and at first I was going to use the name "Crawling Creature", but for some reason I decided to drop that and go with SoA instead. It kinda fited the Peplum noise idea better than Crawling Creature.
m[m]:Most of Sleep Of Ages releases are themed around Peplum or Sword-and-Sandal movies, where does the interest in these movies come from?
Elias SoA started because of HNW, and not in the best way. I was just getting into HNW and I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. You know, you record 40 minutes of static and say that this is a tribute to a Giallo movie. I thought at the time that it would be fun to make something like "Scrubs (the sitcom) Worship Walls" or, because Giallo was so popular, "Peplum Walls". Luckily I choose the latter, but I am sure the former would be well accepted nowadays that HNW is not so serious anymore and it is kinda cool to do that stuff.
Elias It was not a very well thought move, it was very "half hearted" and kinda idiotic. But it was a move nonetheless and it gave me focus. I started working on it, and the theme I picked influenced the noise I was making, trying to sound low budget and epic at the same time, with walls relating to coliseums and feedback as swordfights. A lot of my first walls, to me, sounded more "horizontal" than "vertical", like deserts where you were dragged by a chariot... Also I wanted to bury melodies/music inside walls. And I started watching more Peplums for a while. So it was a joke that backfired, and that was a good thing. I started to take HNW more seriously, to understand it and respect it. Now, I wouldn't say that "Sword And Sandal" themes are used in most of my releases, in the first 4 or 5, yes, but I am getting away from that. I still want to revisit it a few more times, but, I want SoA to embrace more themes and ideas than Peplum alone. I am much more of a horror movies guy myself.
m[m]:Why have you decided to move away from the Peplum or Sword-and-Sandal theme for Sleep of Ages?, and what new themes do you hope to cover now?
Elias Well, I am not much of a consistent person, by any means, in any way. My interests are all over the place and I don't really have one obsession on one theme. The "Peplum" theme was born out of a joke, and it was closer to the HNW "obsession/theme" orientation, so, when SoA started to get more diversified sound wise, and I started to understand better HNW and Noise, absorb it better and like listening and doing it more and more, it felt silly (or maybe... sillier?) to keep on with this gimmick of sorts. So, kind of naturally, I started to make SoA more abstract, with more wide approaches, and CBP became my HNW project with some of the "theme orientation", dealing with, usually, something more specific and less personal (last part can be argued). I really like movies, not just horror movies, not just genre movies, movies in general, and some of it always "drips" into my noise. Lately I've been dealing with more "personal" issues and thoughts with SoA, using it to let some steam be released. And, deep inside, I feel that I am still part "critic" (be of noise, movies, music, etc), I read a lot of Critics/Reviewers and I get a lot of influence from it. I'd like to overestimate myself here and compare my noise with something like Godard´s cinema, pardon my megalomania, but he started as a movie critic and then went to make movies but always with that same frame of ideas and approach, I like that, I like to talk about noise, music, the noise "scene" and noise artists with my releases, but usually in a more "clouded" way, not so direct and open to many types of understanding of it
m[m]:By noise standards Sleep Of Ages sound is quite varied & often tinged with harmonic & atmospheric elements, does this happen naturally or do you deliberately try & make your sound varied?
Elias I am erratic. I am undisciplined. I am a man of impulses and weak sense of continuity. I am a mess. I think it´s fair to say that I pursue varied sounds naturally. I do find myself planning a lot between noise recording, thinking what aspect should I emphazise, what elements should I incorporate and what direction should I take my sound. But then, when I am playing/recording, I can´t say that I follow all this stuff step by step. Maybe on the first minutes or so, but usually I got lost in the sounds and just work responding to the chaos that develops in front of me. I try to make more sense of it all later, editing, layering and mixing tracks, but the thing is, I love errors. I love things that happened without my will, I love when things go wrong and reveal to me something that I wasn't capable of planning/thinking. Some of the best moments are these happy accidents that, in my opinion, add more depth to my noise. Lately I am trying to be more consistent and controlled, to plan and execute, and that’s also kinda natural, I think, because I haven’t made noise for decades, I’ve only been actively making noise for two years now, and that’s an awful short time. So I still feel adventurous, I still feel like I am learning and discovering things, and I wanna see how much deeper in the rabbit hole all these gadgets will lead me. But as you go further you become, hardened, you start to see patterns and learn lessons, develop some modus operandi and such. At first I was marvelled by the chaos but then I started to see familiar faces in it, now I wanna master it (oh, the ego), but not completely, not too lose the ability to amuse myself and it becomes automatic. I still wanna fail a lot.
That all being said, I feel a little like a "scam nosie artist", because a lot of times I have musical approaches to what I do. I don't know a lot of musical theory, but I play guitar/bass/drums and sing, I've being in bands and I composed a lot of songs, so it all "creeps in" my noise. From time to time I catch myself treating a noise track like a rock/heavy metal song, even HNW. Like, well, this low rumble here is the bass, it goes along with this "thudthudthu"s, more percussive noises that are the drums, then we got the mediums that are the guitars, and that crispy static on the top that could be something else... And I am incorporating more and more vocals, or vocal elements into my noise. So, you guys out there are just listening to a bunch of heavy metal songs really badly played/recorded, hehehe.
m[m]:Your second active project is horror themed HNW & ANW Carrion Black Pit- tell us a bit how this came about & what’s the origin of its name?
Elias CBP grew out of respect. Respect for HNW, respect for static, noise textures and the possibilities of it. I wanted to focus on the minimalism maximalized that is HNW and I felt that it would be better if I split that part of SoA to a new project. "Flow" is a key word to me, and I just don't think that a 3 or 5 minute hyperactive harsh noise track, then a 20 minute monolithic wall and then a more industrial noise track would work every time. To me HNW is very much about terms like persistence, submission, obliteration... CBP is less "cinematic" than SoA but still, I approach it like storytelling a lot of times. I wanna push HNW further and test it´s borders with Harsh Noise, Industrial, Drone, Ambient... I want it to be varied as SoA, but, while Sleep of Ages is full of colors, Carrion Black Pit uses black, white and shades of grey. Sometimes I want walls that give you the sense of cosmic horror, sometimes I want bleak walls that feel like looking into the abyss of yourself, sometimes I just want the nastiest darkest wall, something that was buried for ages and encrusted with moss, rust, crust and dry blood. SoA is movies, CBP is more like literature, even if I tackle some movie themes now and then. The central themes, at first, were Poe and Lovecraft, but soon I extended to others, and recently I started giving a try at less "Classic" horror themes with releases about "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" and "John Carpenter They Live" for example.
Elias The name is taken from Lovecraft, but through it´s connection with one of my favorite movies from one of my favorite directors, "In The Mouth of Madness" by John Carpenter. And I love the name.
m[m]:Tell us a bit about your set-up & does it vary from project to project?
Elias Well, the material I create is not gear oriented at first. As I am a very undisciplined person, as I said before, so there are times that I just grab some pedals and see what I can get from them. With time comes knowledge of your setup, so my choices become less random. I notice that I tend to favour cheap pedals... Not that I have expensive ones, but I always pick some of the less praise stuff to use. I love my Zoom 505´s, Danos and Behringers.
I am also not a great fan of the Death Metal Pedal. I do have a DOD DM and a Digitech one, but I find Boss pedals more to my liking: I like the Metalzone for it´s EQ, the Hypermetal for it´s lows, the Heavy Metal for it´s character and the Mega Distortion can be quite wild. I don't usually put more than two or 3 distortions along. It depends on the source, obviously, as static can work quite well with a single distortion pedal, but I hardly put more than 3 to obliterate sounds, as I like that the some of the character from the source remains.
Elias My first couple of releases (Peplum, S&S, Maciste in Hell...) are made with a Zoom 505II and a Boss Mega Distortion, some cheap mic and my computer. Some of my first walls are layers of feedback heavily processed on the PC, with some vst´s. As time went by, I acquired more gadgets and leaned more on the analogue side of things (not counting digital pedals), so I use the PC more to record and edit/layer/mix and less to create, but nothing is out of the table for me. I am not gear oriented, I am sound oriented, and whatever it takes, I am cool with that. Having to work with limited conditions (time, space, gear...) is always gratifying and make you think out of the box.
Elias Aside form the first releases where I didn't have many options, I really can't tell you what carries on from release to release, as my setup is always changing and my releases aren't usually snapshots of particular moments, as I use several different sounds from different recording sessions. I do have some of my first tracks to use yet, as it all boils down to the aforementioned "flow".
m[m]:How often do you create noise, is it split equal between your two projects, and do you use every thing you record?
Elias I create noise whenever possible, which is never enough. I record based on what I am feeling that day, or according to some ideas that were floating on my head at the time. A lot of times I start recording Harsh Noise but change gears to HNW after. Usually when I record HNW I stick to HNW... I Don't know why. As my setup evolved and also my noise awareness, and I spend more time thinking about my own and others releases, my recording sessions become a little more focused. I go thru some phases, when I record a lot of something specific also. As my time is very limited, I tend to always record when I practice, and I end up with a lot of material, but I would be a fool to release or even use it all, because not everything is good enough, some stuff is only "bland knob twisting" or something like that. This amount of material gives me a hard time to scavenge for what´s worth putting out, so I don't recommend it. Most of the time, what I send to a label has been recorded months before, and I listened to it a lot of times, especially HNW. The few times I didn't listen to it and let it sit for a while, I regretted, because you lose some of the ability to evaluate it properly, you get excited with this new sound and put out something sub par. But the fact that I never release an album (except from HNW) that has material of a single recording session only, or even tracks of the same period of time, helps a little.
m[m]:Clearly you’re a huge fan of horror movies, books ect. Please chose ten movies, books or stories that mean a lot to you & expalin why they do?
Elias I am not the avid reader that I want to be, so I'll restrict myself to movies. Neveretheless I want to cite Poe and Lovecraft as two big influences on my Carrion Black Pit Project, along with Kafka, Harlan Ellison, Augusto dos Anjos (brazilian poet), Clive Barker...
EVIL DEAD - It made an imprint on me at a very young age. I wasn't even watching the movie, I was a very little kid, running around the house and my parents were watching it. I caught a glimpse of the scene where Ash´s girlfriend is possessed, sitting by the door laughing maniacally. It was enough, I guess this was the dark seed that planted itself in my mind, so I would always have interest for horror movies, stories and subjects. Years later, as a teenage, discovering this movie and remembering that moment back in time was a fantastic experience.
FRIGHT NIGHT - It is specially important because it was the first horror movie I ever rented and watched by myself. The scary part was before watching it, the suspense of what kind of evil world I was opening the door to... The movie itself is pretty light, but very nice, & a lot of fun.
THEY LIVE - From one of my favorite directors, the movie that I used to say it was my favorite of all time. Nowadays I am torn between this, "The Thing" and "In The Mouth of Madness" as my favorite John Carpenter movies, but back in my teen age, it was very important as a gateway to what could be done with horror, not just scare or entertain, but criticize and raise questions, make artistic statements or just plain confuse.
DREAMS - Kurosawa "Dreams" may not be regarded as the best of him, and even less as a horror movie, but the dreams do turn into nightmares, and then back again, on a very calm yet disturbing pace, making you focus more on within than on the movie itself. Horror as something natural in life, without exploiting it and maybe without even seeing it as something just plain evil, but more like just another colour in our grand picture.
DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE - I love zombie movies. I love Romero ones, Fulci, the low budget, the italian, even some mainstream ones (Dawn of the Dead remake for example). I choose this one because it takes the "zombie movie" premise and runs away with it, creating a whole universe full of beautiful images, but it’s also not afraid to delve deep into gore, madness, surrealism and plain silliness.
PULSE (Kairo) - By Kiyoshi Kurosawa, this one is another movie that can't really be put as "just a movie". It creates a universe of it´s own, it does so much in it´s running time, more than most directors do in whole careers. It’s bittersweet take on the emptiness of our lives, the impending doom that looms it’s shadow over us and the celebration of surviving against all odds is pure genius.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Låt den rätte komma in) - Well, I seem to favour more "humanistic" approaches to horror nowadays... And this one is as good as it gets.
Really wonderful movie in all angles. It is probably one of the best new movies I've seen, truly a masterpiece.
HAXÄN - WITCHCRAFT THOUGH THE AGES - One of the older movies that I've seen (along with Murnau´s "Nosferatu", Dreyer "Vampyr", Guido Brignone "Maciste In Hell" to cite a few) that is just so ahead of time it is. Techniques, subjects and imagery that would be praised and used decades later are here presented in such a classy and strong form. You do have to overlook some aspects of it, but the depiction of Inquisition time is so well done that any complaint is just side tracking
THE SEVENTH SEAL - Yeah, I am following a pattern here... Another more "artsy" movie, not so much horror per se if you see the surface, but really, what can be more horrific than our own mortality and the act of facing it? And what other movies can be said to be so wonderfully crafted like this?
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE - You know the scene in the van with the hitchiker? The spectator is put in that van for the whole movie. Frenzy filmed with guts and gusto, madness that sweeps from every shadow, a claustrophobic movie experience that moulded horror movie. Just a hell of a ride.
Elias This list was compiled without much thought, I just wanted to write down the ten movies that popped in my head when I thought about the question.
It is painful to do lists, I love reading and doing it, but, you always leave hundreds of great movies behind. So I'll cheat and say that a alternative list could be done with "Begotten", "Holy Mountain", "Eraserhead", "Suspiria", "It´s Alive", "At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul", "Videodrome", "Braindead", "Hellraiser", "Black Sabbath". And I could make a third one with... ;)
m[m]: Are there any horror movies you’d like to re-soundtrack & if so why?
Elias I usually like the soundtracks to my favorite movies, so this is hard, I really want to give a go at "reinterpretations" of some movies. I did something like this with "They Live" and "Testsuo" with CBP. I planned on doing this with other movies, some silent ones, usually B&W pictures, but I don't have anything that I can share right now. I did a soundtrack to some imaginary movie (Escape From Zombie Planet) that was released by my good friend Gag from Vomit Bucket Productions (in a split with his project, Ataraxy, that also scored some imaginary movie of his own) some time ago that I am very proud.
m[m]:Have you ever played live with either project & if not is this something you’d like to do in the future?
Elias I’ve never played live yet, but it is surely something that I would love to do. I am trying to make that happen here in Brazil (cross fingers), but as I am a very insecure and shy person, I would prefer to have someone with me in this first presentations. I can kind of overcome all this(the insecure/shy person) because I am the vocalist of two thrash metal bands, hehehe.
m[m]:Tell us a bit about how your new power electronics/ industrial project EXU came about?
Elias There´s not a lot to tell about it, really. I self released a digital album thru Bandcamp (here: http://exuindustrial.bandcamp.com/album/finis-hominis) and it´s a crude first step, trying to make something more musical, industrial inclined, but still noisy and experimental. I am a little blocked right now, trying to find a way to evolve this concept. I am turning my attention to very old tracks that I made some years ago, my first experiments with industrial styled sounds, and I am thinking in how I'll bring this tracks to surface and what I'll make of then to update this sounds to where I am now. I wanna work with vocals and musical instruments (guitar, bass, drums) and make something that bridges Merzbow to Suicide to Godflesh to Residents to Entombed to SPK to Goblin to Myself. It will rest on some place near PE, but my approach (I hope) will be more like, coming from industrial and going to noise, than starting at Power Electronics ground. I like a lot of PE acts, but I don't feel like mimicking their sounds, I am taking more influence from the stripped down harshness, minimalistic hatred aspect of it, but going not for rage, but for something closer to my own state of mind. I am not really an angry person and I keep everything to myself, so I wanna convey with EXU feelings of anxiety, the hopelessness of mechanic routine, slow burning hatred deep buried within oneself... But right now there´s nothing happening at this front.
Thanks to Elias for his time & efforts with the interview. Elias main page for news on all his projects can be found here, Sleep of Ages soundcloud page is here, and Carrion Black Pit soundcloud page can be found here . Also bandcamp pages for Sleep Of Ages here , Carrion Black Pit here, and EXU here