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Between Grey Calm & Blacked Storm [2013-03-20]

Minneapolis based Cory Strand is one of the more interesting, creative & sonically varied artists to appear with-in the HNW/Drone scene in the last year or so.  Strand is linked to various projects whose sound moves from grey ambience, HNW, doom metal, brutal noise drone retakes on black metal, and beyond. He also runs the excellent and highly prolific Altar Of Waste label, which has amassed nearing sixty releases in less than a year.  Cory kindly agreed to take time out from his busy workload to give M[m] an email interview.

m[m]:What are some of you’re earliest musical/ sonic memories? And do you think any of them influenced you to start making sound yourself?
Cory The earliest memories I have of music are of my dad playing drums in our basement.  He’d been playing in various bands since he was a teenager and while they all dissolved before my parents had me and my brother, my dad would still rush down to the basement to rock any time he heard a song he liked on the radio or on a record.  Something like “Rock and Roll” or “Honky Tonk Women” would come on and he’d leap up and run down to the basement saying “I gotta drum to it.”  So there was always an appreciation for music in the house.  I remember my dad’s favorite records, listening to them on long car trips and whatnot-The Doobie Brothers, Nick Lowe, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Great White, Cinderella, the Rolling Stones.  Of course the Beatles.  Always the Beatles.
I think just being the child of a musician pretty much laid out the path I’d head down.  I started playing guitar when I was 13 and every now and then my dad and I would rock out together in the basement, Neil Young covers and things like that.  Slayer, Deicide, Napalm Death, the Melvins, Nirvana-they were (and still are) sacred to me.  I feel like I was meant to be a musician.  Music certainly defined my life from the time I was 12 to now.  It’s always been there.
 


m[m]:What are some of the first more experimental recordings you listened to & how/why did you get introduced to the HNW form?
Cory My first real encounter with truly experimental music came in 1997, when I was in college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  It was a really shitty time for me-I was totally isolated, I felt like my parents had these super high expectations for me, and I was suffering from clinical depression.  I had stopped taking my medications as they were making me feel removed from myself and things were getting pretty awful.  I couldn’t connect with anyone, I felt lonely all the time.  I couldn’t sleep either so most nights I found myself in the computer labs, conversing on various message boards for bands I liked, mostly the Melvins and Pavement. 

Cory I met a guy named Matthew St. Germain via the Pavement message board.  Matt ran the Freedom From label and was a pretty notorious figure in the Twin Cities noise scene.  He began recommending shit for me to check out that was totally new to me-Harry Pussy, the Dead C, things like that.  I took him at his word, drove down to the Cities and snatched up what I could find.  The Dead C was a completely mind-blowing experience.  All that noise and expanse and drift and drone-it resonated with me instantly.  “Tusk” is still one of my favorite records of all time.  After that I got heavy into noisier stuff-Birchville Cat Motel, Fushitsusha/Haino, Kevin Drumm, A Handful of Dust, Skullflower, Acid Mothers Temple, Merzbow, Aube, Masonna.  I was huge into Japanese psychedelia and noise.  Still am.  A few months later I met Matt in person and he gave me a tape he had put out-Alan Licht and Tamio Shiraishi as a live duo.  Fucking leveling.  Total guitar vomit wipeout.  It was what I had been wanting to hear my whole life.

Cory I think my first introduction to HNW, or at least the idea of HNW, was Kevin Drumm’s “Sheer Hellish Miasma.”  I know it isn’t a true HNW recording per se, but I think philosophically and sonically it veers pretty close to whatever line or distinction you’d like to make regarding the definition of HNW.  It’s still my favorite noise record of all time.  As far as true HNW, it was Vomir, about two years ago.  I loved it right away and wanted more.  It had the violence and repetition that I loved so much in black metal plus the sheer fucking punishment of Whitehouse or Drumm or Merzbow.  It’s music to get lost in.  It pretty much eradicates your sense of self, and that’s intensely appealing to me.  It’s a very transcendent form of music.
 


m[m]:What was your first band/ project?
Cory The first real band that I was in was Fallen, when I was 16.  We were sort of a death metal/hardcore hybrid.  I was in a couple other bands prior to that but they weren’t anything I was really serious about-Fallen was way more visceral than anything my peers were doing at the time and I took it very seriously (although whether we were “good” or not is a totally subjective question), but after awhile my depression started to overwhelm me and I just kind of stopped going to practices.

Cory I didn’t get anything else going until 1998 or so.  My friend Ben Zientara and I were sharing an apartment and we just started playing guitar together late at night.  We formed a duo called Iosis, which eventually morphed into the Kafka Dreams.  The Kafka Dreams were a unit for about 10 years, we released one record, sort of Dinosaur Jr. meets Mogwai.  The Kafka Dreams morphed into both Yog-Sothoth and Dreamless, two far noisier projects-Yog is psychedelic doom type stuff and Dreamless is shoegaze.  Most people know me from Dreamless, as we’re on Handmade Birds records.  Both of those bands are still active.

 


m[m]:You have quite a few different solo projects such as: Lethe(hopeless & bleak drone/HNW/death ambience), Lindskold(black metal inspired noise drone/ dark ambient), Necronom IV( mostly Ridley Scott's Alien bleak drone & dark ambience) ,  & Cory Strand(mostly film soundtrack based repetition that flits between ambience & walled noise).  Please tell us a little bit about how each project came about & what you utilize to create each project’s sound?
Cory I started Lethe last year because I really wanted to produce recordings that honored my love for Eliane Radigue and Kevin Drumm.  I had tried making those sorts of recordings live utilizing guitars but I just couldn’t manipulate them enough.  I started experimenting with synthesizer sounds and sine waves and found that I was finally able to make those infinitely long, static pieces that I had been hearing in my head.  The first Lethe recordings are really, really glacial, huge stretches of tone.  I also started creating HNW material as Lethe, just big walls of static.  Those early pieces are certainly abrasive but they’re not refined or composed in the way that my newer material is.  Lethe was a great starting point to figure out just what exactly I wanted to do as an HNW artist-some of the things I did under the Lethe moniker foreshadow the deconstruction/reconstruction recordings that I do now.  The “Theodore Robert Bundy” and “For Blood, For Honor” sets both point towards where I was going, and I really like those albums.  The final unreleased Lethe album (which will hopefully be out later this year) is a double record made up of manipulated speech from January Jones as Betty Draper in “Mad Men,” two huge pieces of shivery ambient.  At that point I kind of knew what I wanted to be.  I ended the project a few months ago because my approach had changed pretty dramatically.  Plus too many other people were using the name.  I probably should have done a little more research. 

Cory Lindskold was my attempt to incorporate my love of black metal into the sort of noise/drone stuff I was doing.  The first Lindskold record was all live guitars, heavily manipulated.  The split with Episiotomist was all guitars again, trying to do a Merzbow type psychedelic approach combined with some VERY static ambient.  The last Lindskold record was all manipulated voice and keyboards.  I’m not sure if I’ll do anything else under that moniker-I love black metal but I’m just not very good at writing it.

Cory Necronom IV was supposed to be a one-time project, just that initial series of albums dedicated to the “Alien” mythology, but every now and again I’ll do something that fits it, like the “Pet Semetary” record, or I’ll just want to work with that mythology some more-it seems to really lend itself well to drone.  Necronom IV is sort of a tribute to both Ridley Scott and Sleep Research Facility, they did that fantastic “Nostromo” record, and that’s pretty much the template for what I do with Necronom IV.  Necronom IV is all manipulated guitars on the first four records, and I’m really happy I was finally able to get such enveloping sounds out of them.  I love those records-they’re essentially what I like best in drone-massive, nearly unchanging blocks of deep, deep tone.  I listen to them when I’m sleeping because they fill up the room and blanket me.  It’s oppressive but calming at the same time-it makes me feel like I’m afloat in space.  I’m working on a new Necronom IV set, four discs of deep space synth drone sounds in honor of “Prometheus.”

Cory The material I’m doing under my own name easily is most representative of my approach to both the HNW and drone genres.  Manipulating existing material is what I like to do best-I am endlessly fascinated by the sounds you can create out of something that’s already there, all of the possibilities inherent in something that you might not have necessarily thought of as being related to HNW.  I think “The Shining” set was my first release under my own name and it’s just taken off from there.  I’ve finally gotten to that place where I know exactly what I’m doing and what I’m trying to achieve.  I feel like using my own name for these records allows me a freedom to experiment, deviate and change that is incredibly liberating.  With some of my actual “band” projects it’s like there’s a need for me to repeat myself while at the same time surpassing myself and I think that’s sort of unrealistic.  I’m an anxious person so maybe I’m off base with that or I’m just suffering from some sort of persecution complex.  There’s just so much critical dissonance tossed out when bands don’t “evolve” or progress from album to album and I hate that.  That’s not what I’m interested in as a musician.  For whatever reason, recording as “myself” frees me, maybe just in my own head, to do what I want to do and ignore expectations.  I’d like to think I’ve been successful at it thus far-the stuff I’ve done as Cory Strand is certainly the most artistically satisfying for me.

 

m[m]:You’re also in a Lovecraft influenced doom band called Yog-Sothoth- how did this project come about?
Cory Yog-Sothoth was formed in 2005 by me and Ben.  We were renting a house together that actually had a basement for us to practice in so we just started jamming more and more.  I wanted to do something more monotonous and bludgeoning than what we were doing in the Kafka Dreams or my other band at the time, Yume, so I wrote some simple riffs and we started putting songs together through free-form jam sessions.  We’ve got some practice tapes where we just hammer a single riff into the ground for an hour.  The whole idea for Yog-Sothoth was to fuse the feedback ritualism of Skullflower to the heavy sludge tectonics of the Melvins.

Cory To date Ben and I have recorded three albums as Yog-Sothoth: “Hypnotic Crushery,” “Extraordinarily Magickal,” (which is a double CD) and “III.”  I released the “Hypnotic Crushery” album on AOW because I was tired of not having a physical version available.  I’ve thought of releasing the other two as well, but we’d really like to see vinyl releases for those albums, and it’s just not financially realistic to do it myself.  It would pretty much bankrupt me.  I’m kinda surprised no other label has picked us up yet, because the unreleased records are great, I think, and worthy of a wider audience.  Certainly my best drum performances.  Those albums were a blast to make, building something completely from the ground up, just adding part after part.  When I listen to “Extraordinarily Magickal” it’s still shocking to me that it was just me and Ben over the course of one weekend-it’s a pretty expansive album.  We had been working on a fourth record for awhile but I’ve had to take a hiatus while I’m in school, as I simply don’t have the time.
 


m[m]:In May 2012 you set up the Altar Of Waste label- tell us a bit about why you decided to do this?
Cory I was making all of this music as Lethe and releasing it digitally, which was great, but I really wanted to make some sort of physical release.  I had just recorded the “Theodore Robert Bundy” set and was thinking of some way to create it physically.  When I finally had the set constructed, I thought “Why not just start up a label and release my own stuff that way?”  Thus Altar Of Waste was born.  The name came from my girlfriend’s suggestion. 

Cory There was never any initial desire to do anything other than release my own music, but as I got more into the design/artwork/construction element of the label, I thought I could probably release some other people’s work as well and still have the label be a creative outlet for me as well as an extension of my particular aesthetic.  That’s what Altar Of Waste is for me first and foremost-a creative project.  I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from designing artwork, constructing the packages and writing the descriptions, more than I’ve had in any creative endeavor for a long time.  It gets stressful and a little overwhelming at times but the fulfillment vastly exceeds the effort.  I feel like I’m building something with the label, really making something interesting and challenging, and that feeling is incredibly rewarding.  I know I ask a lot from the artists I work with in letting me design their album artwork, but it’s important to me that Altar Of Waste remain mine.  There’s just me making everything.  Lately my girlfriend Gina has done some artwork (the Burial Ground “Exorcist” album, my upcoming “Halloween II” rework, and the aforementioned final Lethe album “Betty”) as well as helped me with construction (the beautiful outer covers and bindings for the booklet included with the Dead Body Collection “This Is My Home” set were done by her), but I don’t really want it to get any larger than that.  It’s a lot to keep track of already as the label is pretty prolific! 

Cory Ben and I used to operate a label years ago called Yith Recordings and we were trying to do everything on a mass, “professional” scale, you know, like pressings of 1000 copies and shit.  It was ridiculous, very costly, and difficult to navigate.  By keeping Altar Of Waste small and creating everything in-house, I can stay sane and still release music that hopefully resonates with people.
 

 

m[m]:The label has quite a distinctive house style that finds all the CDR releases presented in clear plastic DVD case that often featured quite arty & colourful double side artwork- what attracted  you to this  form of packaging? And would you like to release in other formats such as tape and vinyl in the future?
Cory The size of the “Theodore Robert Bundy” set necessitated a simple package.  DVD cases are pretty cheap, they look cool, they’re much simpler to design packaging layouts for, and they can house multiple discs, so it was a no-brainer.  I knew I wanted the label to have an instantly identifiable aesthetic to the releases, and the DVD cases help with that.  Since a major part of Altar Of Waste’s identity is based on the idea of total saturation, being able to make any number of multi-disc sets was key.  The first few releases also had a very similar artwork style, with the smaller picture against a black background, but as I’ve grown more proficient with the design programs I’ve ventured further with the layouts, although I will still sometimes use that “classic” style when it works best for what I’m trying to achieve with a release.

Cory I’m not trying to challenge any existing notions of HNW with the artier layouts.  I just think a certain way about the music and the sorts of images and ideas it presents to me.  And I want the releases to look cool, certainly.  A lot of the layouts are collaborations between me and the artists, too-they give me ideas and images and themes to work with and I try and bring them something visually that incorporates those elements.  The Savage Cross, Carrion Black Pit, and Dead Body Collection records were definitely collaborative efforts, as were the two records I’ve done with James Killick’s projects, and there are lots of designs that didn’t get used or weren’t exactly what the artist was thinking for the release, even though I thought they were cool-so it’s very much an open dialogue throughout the design process.  Although I always appreciate it when an artist gives me free reign!  I’m not a pro designer by any stretch, I’m more a “collage” artist than anything else, but I really love the visual opportunities people have given me in working with their material.
 
Cory I am certainly not against other formats, vinyl especially-I‘d love to be able to release stuff that’s as nice as what Urashima is doing-but the main reason I release all of the AOW stuff on CDr is because I own and control ALL of the means of production, and therefore am not reliant on anyone else’s schedule.  I can finish the work on my own time and know it meets the standards I’m setting for the label.  If I fuck up on some printing or something, which has happened, I can fix it quickly and not have to deal with any sort of middle person.  With tape and vinyl those things are out of my hands and that freaks me out a little.  I don’t want to ever outsource anything with Altar Of Waste.  If there came a time when I was able to dub my own tapes I could see doing it, but I like the larger canvas a DVD case gives me as far as artwork is concerned.  I don’t know if I’ll ever do a vinyl release because it’s just ungodly expensive.


m[m]:Some of your most creative & fascinating work comes from your film soundtrack reinterpretations - can you tell us a little bit about how you go about choosing your subjects?, how do you go about the deconstructions? And what has been your most challenging deconstruction so far?
Cory The choices are pretty simple, really: they’re for films that I really like, whose soundtracks stand alone as pieces of art in their own right, separate from their films.  I also try and consider whether they’d lend themselves to an HNW aesthetic, however tenuous.  Psychology plays a big role in it.  The subject matter has to be right on some level-I have to find some connection to an emotion or atmosphere in the work.  The best example of that is the record I did for Vagary, the rework of Weezer’s “Pinkerton.”  Even though it isn’t a film soundtrack, the process was the same, and I felt it would work because that album has such a wealth of brutal, naked, harrowing emotions-anxiety and depression, certainly, but also regret and yearning and anger-and I thought they’d translate really well to a noise treatment.  Same with the Carpenter soundtracks-they just seem tailor-made for noise and ambient treatments.  I’m pretty sure that I will eventually rework every Carpenter soundtrack.  I love his work and I love working with the material.

Cory As far as the process of the deconstructions themselves, I don’t want to reveal too much about how I do it, but the equipment and software used are really simple.  I’ll either manipulate whole tracks or just sections, depending on what sounds right to me at that particular time.  There’s a lot of looping involved and a lot of applied effects to achieve whatever I feel is the “desired” result or sound based on whatever vision I had for the work at its conception.  Some are necessarily more violent than others, and sometimes I like to subvert that violence and change it into dread or foreboding or nervousness or just an intensely oppressive atmosphere.  Some of the stuff I’ve done with soundtracks, it becomes difficult to listen to in headphones because the tones are so engulfing and they just bear down on you-that’s when I know something really works.

Cory The most challenging set so far has been “The Master.”  I ‘ve tried a number of different approaches to it and none of them are working.  It’s a little frustrating because normally the reworks just sort of take shape of their own accord and this one, I feel like I’m forcing it.  I don’t know if I’ll even finish it.

 


m[m]:You’ve also put out a series of extreme pop song remix albums, which  have seen you morphing bland pop fare into dark drone matter, brutal HNW & HNW/pop cross breeds.  Tell us a little bit about where the idea came to do this ? And what pop artists have you got your eyes on next for this extreme remix treatment?
Cory Again, this is another aspect of my work that owes a lot to James Killick, just really digging what he’s been doing with Love Katy and the philosophy behind it.  I started with the Ellie Goulding set because I genuinely really liked the song and I wanted to see how far I could push it.  The Goulding set wasn’t part of it, but that experience of reworking her track really formed the basis for the loose series that I’ve been doing.  Again, the approach is similar to Love Katy’s but I think my intentions are a bit different.  Love Katy is a celebration; the reworks that I’m doing with pop starlets are much darker themed.  I’m trying to get at the depressions that I hear hiding in these songs-there’s a sadness in Ellie’s “Lights,” for instance, that I wanted to try and bring out.  Trying to eke out those dangerous and frightening emotions is part of my selection process-I try and choose artists who have either a very difficult public history or who have somehow been forced into a position or image that they did not entirely create themselves.  I’m very fascinated by the ladies whose work I choose to manipulate.  With the Lohan album I did, “Punishment Will Be Severe,” I was trying to blend all of these elements of her into the work-the sexuality, the contentiousness, the arrogance, the sense of failure and desperation-but I wasn’t doing it to hold her up as some sort of emblem for disgrace or anything.  She’s just an interesting, deeply flawed person, and truthfully, her music isn’t at all bad.  It’s just really culturally interesting to me.

Cory The other two reworks I’ve done in the series follow that same idea, trying to pull something tormented out of work that doesn’t necessarily read that way upon first listen.  With the Pink album, “Worry and Ruin,” it was trying to see the depression haunting the two songs I fucked with.  “Try” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me” both have supposedly empowering messages but the suffering it must have taken to arrive at those resignations is certainly interesting to me.  Plus Pink is a pop star whose entire image was invented for her and refined for her as her career evolved.  Same with Avril Lavigne, and I think I captured that sense of scattered identity with the way I messed up her songs on “The Motherfucking Princess.”  Plus I really wanted to play up the “punk” angle she has so I made the walls pretty intense.  There’s a break with reality that at some point has to be acclimated to in order for these people to keep doing what they do.  Avril can’t possibly be the person her albums portray her as.  I want to immerse myself in things like that.

Cory As far as future entries in the series, I think I’ll be exploring the work of Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, Nicki Minaj, Hilary Duff, and Lindsay Lohan again.  The Lohan album will end the cycle-it’ll probably be a full-album rework of her landmark 2005 record “A Little More Personal (RAW)” and will probably end up being a four or five disc set.  There might be more along the way, but those for sure.

 


m[m]:Have you played live yet with any of your HNW or drone projects? And if not is this something you’d like to do?
Cory I haven’t done any live noise stuff yet, and I don’t know that I really will.  Playing live has been less and less enjoyable for me.  It’s a lot of effort for very little reward.  When I was younger it used to mean a lot to me to get out there and decimate stages but now I find I’d rather just work by myself at home.  Same with listening to things-I used to see every band I loved live if I could, and now, maybe it’s just me getting older, but none of it feels as visceral or urgent anymore.  It kind of begins to feel more like an obligation or a contrivance for bands to play live.  There are a few bands that I will still always go and see-the Melvins, Acid Mothers Temple-but the rest tends to disappoint me.  I feel like I could have a more enjoyable experience just listening to records through the headphones at home, without having to deal with all the people at a show.  

Cory That doesn’t mean I would rule out playing live, though.  I would still very much enjoy doing live noise guitar.  I have plenty of cabinets and amplifiers…and every now and then it’s nice to play a Dreamless or Yog-Sothoth show.  The best show I ever saw was easily Keiji Haino at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis, and sometimes I find myself dreaming of creating that inferno of guitars in some sort of live setting.  But for the immediate moment, no.  All my drone and HNW will probably be confined to “studio” work.  I’m more in love with the process of creating the work than performing it.

 

m[m]:What made you decide to release “Theodore Robert Bundy” as your first release on the label?, what attracted you to his case? And are there any other serial killer cases you’d like to theme a release around?
Cory It seemed the most substantial release I had at the time-four discs-and I really wanted to create a physical package for it.  And it seemed a good inaugural release for a label called Altar Of Waste-certainly violent enough.  I majored in criminology for awhile in college and have always been interested in aberrant psychology, serial murder especially.  For a very long time my goal was to become a psychiatrist and find work with the FBI as a criminal profiler.  I have piles of books about serial murder, both “true crime” type novelizations as well as actual police detection and apprehension manuals written by folks like Robert Keppel (who was directly involved in the Bundy case) and Robert Ressler (who interviewed many serial murderers and helped build the VICAP program.)  I read Ann Rule’s “The Stranger Beside Me” in 10th grade and was instantly fascinated.  Bundy is still the personality that most intrigues me in the annals of serial murder.  I can’t really imagine what it must have been like to live in his head, but there’s a book of interviews he did years ago while in prison where he speculates in the third person about how the murders he was responsible for might have been committed, and it’s just fascinating to read.  Fucking chilling and horrifying at times but so, so interesting.  I’ve read everything there is to read about him, I wrote a 30 page term paper on him years ago, and it’s still difficult to grasp the emptiness he had inhabiting him.  If you could even call it that.  He certainly didn’t know how to think about it, but he knew it was there, existing inside of him and overtaking him, all this anger, always there.  Listening to him trying to explain it in a rational way in these interviews is so oblique and strange because he’s trying to describe a state of thought that isn’t in any way rational at all.  A few years ago I visited a friend in Seattle and he took me to the various abduction sites and dumping grounds Bundy used.  It was weird.  Standing at Lake Sammamish, looking out at the water, looking over and seeing the restroom where he convinced Denise Naslund to come away with him so he could make her watch him murder Janice Ott before killing Naslund as well-I can’t describe it.  I could feel this hollowness around.  Same with Issaquah and Taylor Mountain.  Weird, weird feelings, but tangible and nearly physical.  Last year I wrote a screenplay for school based on Bundy and the script was banned from production, supposedly for endorsing misogynistic philosophies along with the gross violence.  But that’s who Ted Bundy was-I used dialogue directly from interviews with him.  All the hatred and anger the higher-ups at school thought they heard in the screenplay was just the reality of Bundy coming through.

Cory Since you mentioned it to me in a conversation from awhile back, I have given some thought to doing more serial murder themed releases.  It’s such a good topic for HNW, or at least a particular strain of HNW, or philosophy.  I’d be interested in working on something about Edmund Kemper.  Or the Hillside Stranglers, definitely.  Anything from that “classic” era of serial murder, like 1972-1985 or so.  I know it’s strange to read that-a “classic” era of serial killing-but the late seventies were rife with serial murderers, at least in the United States.  I’d be interested in doing something about Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) too, but Sutcliffe Jugend have already done such remarkable work on that front I’m not sure if there’s anything I could add to the dialogue.  David Berkowitz could be an interesting one, just because there are so many conspiracy theories regarding the Son of Sam and the Process-that could be the template for some seriously fucked up and scattered HNW.


m[m]:So far Altar of Waste has released nearing 60 releases- please select your top ten releases thus far & explain why they are?
Cory Fuck, this will be difficult, as I love all the things people have given me for release-I never would have put them out if I didn’t!  In no particular order:

WET DREAM ASPHYXIATION “BASER” : Still probably the harshest thing I’ve released.  I love this record because it’s so fucking LOUD and so incredibly draining to listen to-just a total psychedelic washout.  If the ultimate goal of Altar Of Waste as an entity is transcendence and saturation, then “Baser” is the perfect example.  It’s just a rad record and was a blast to work on.  Everything just clicked.

CULVER “CIRCLE OF SCARS” : When I made the decision to start releasing works other than my own, Lee was one of the first people I got in touch with.  Culver is easily one of my favorite drone artists of all time, it’s just deep, intense, psychological, wholly dark and otherworldly music, and I knew it would fit the aesthetic of the label perfectly.  “Circle Of Scars” is a monolith of enervation through unnerving tension, a perfect flow of oozing black that consumes everything.  Total void.

SAVAGE CROSS “ABYSS OF THE FLESH OUROBOROUS” : I am endlessly fascinated by the similarities between black metal and HNW, and Savage Cross beautifully exemplifies them.  “Abyss…” is total violence, a raging, visceral storm of sound with one foot firmly rooted in both genres without claiming allegiance to either.  It’s a near-perfect distillation of black metal’s philosophical origins.  Evan is one of my favorite musicians in HNW, I’d love to do more work with him in the future, and I was honored to have done this one for him.  The whole album just SHREDS.

LOVE KATY “YOU’RE NO GOOD FOR ME” : I think all I really need to say is that the label would not be where it is without JK’s generosity in allowing me to release this one.  I think it brought some serious attention to what I was doing with Altar Of Waste, both critically and artistically, and for that I am eternally grateful.  I’ve also borrowed a lot from him in terms of my own approach to HNW, incorporating elements and ideas that might not necessarily be thought of as belonging to or in the genre.  Also, this is just a great record by a great, super unique project.  I loved designing the covers, I love the idea JK’s going for, just highly rewarding all around.  I’d really love to do another Love Katy album on AOW, but I’d release pretty much anything JK sent me.

BURIAL GROUND “THE EXORCIST”: The other record that really put AOW out there was Burial Ground’s “Zombie.”  I really like Tony’s aesthetic with his project and wanted to do another record with him themed around one of our mutually favorite films, “The Exorcist.”  I think what he gave me is leaps and bounds beyond what he did with “Zombie,” though I love that release as well.  “The Exorcist” is just so complex and so masterfully paced and constructed, I really think it’s a definitive piece of HNW.  It’s an assault but it’s also intellectually challenging and requires serious attention to keep up with and pick out all the details.  I was pretty floored the first time I listened to it and I still find new shit buried in it every time I digest it.  Burial Ground is just a stellar project and I’m so happy to have released those two records.

CLIVE HENRY “DER SIEBENTE KONTINENT”: It’s always a joy for me to release a record that stands apart within the genre, and I think all of Clive’s work, but maybe this one especially, truly does separate itself.  Again, it’s not HNW wholly, but it has distinct elements of it, and the end result is a very challenging, complex, and composed piece of work that insinuates itself in your head and just sort of consumes you entirely.  The way Clive arranges sounds is masterful, and the intensity he brings to the pieces he creates has certainly been an inspiration to me.  It’s a recording that supercedes and epitomizes what I love about noise.  “Absolute End” is easily one of the best HNW tracks I have ever heard.  Fucking crushing.  “Der siebente Kontinent” goes a long way towards defining the idea of “overwhelming” for me.

LA MANCHA DEL PECADO “ANCIANO Y ENFERMO”/WEHRMACHT LOMBARDO “AU CONVENT DE PANTHEMONT”:  These releases are two sides of the same coin, since they both come from the same person, Miguel Perez.  The first time I heard his work I fell in love with it, total void drone on par with Culver, and I knew I had to get in touch with him.  He gave me two incredibly cold and devastating pieces of drone architecture, both different but possessed of the same emotional core.  “Anciano…” is really frigid and empty, like the blizzarding static of winter buzzing in your head forever, and “Au Convent…” is this massive slab of throbbing electro-drone that brings to mind Carpenter as filtered through Space Machine.  I hope more people get turned on to Miguel’s stuff through these releases, because he is doing amazing work.  I hope to release much more from him in the future!

DEAD BODY COLLECTION “THIS IS MY HOME”:  The personal investment Alex had in this set is what sets it apart for me.  I know a lot of people don’t think of HNW as having a really emotional core or element to it, and when Alex got in touch with me and told me what this album was about and what it meant I was blown away.  Hearing it for the first time I was devastated by the intensity of it.  There is truly an undercurrent of melancholy and regret in the pieces and it’s incredible to get lost in.  The photos and writings Alex created to accompany the record reflected even more the emotional investment he had in it, and I knew it was a very special release for me.  We spent a lot of time on it and I think the end result was well worth it.  Another record for me that transcends the genre and demands to be considered as a pure composition.

CROWN OF BONE “THRONE OF CACOPHONY”:  I think Dustin is probably one of the hardest working people involved in noise and HNW, as well as one of the most creative, visionary, and driven.  This record is just a small piece of his discography as Crown Of Bone, but it’s a fucking devastator, and I am honored to have released it.  Again, not HNW entirely, but an unholy combination of HNW, PE, and black metal that just scathes when you put it on.  The vocals especially are terrifying.  I’m still amazed at the severity Dustin is able to coax out of his voice.  We’ve developed a really good working relationship since this record; Altar Of Waste will be doing another Crown Of Bone record in the near future, as well as an album from another of Dustin’s projects, Tenebrious, and I’m psyched. 

CORY STRAND “WINTERTIDE”/CORY STRAND “CHRISTINE”:  I think these two albums represent some of my best work in both the ambient and HNW genres.  “Wintertide” is a record that I am incredibly happy with, where I envisioned a very specific sound and was able to achieve it naturally.  “Christine” represents everything that I strive for with the soundtrack reworks: highlighting a film and a composer I truly love, creating a definite mood and atmosphere with sound that is representative of the film, and showcasing a variety of tones and frequencies without sacrificing compositional coherence.  My goal with my own stuff, regardless of what genre I’m working in, is to create music that I personally love listening to.  Both of these records succeed.

Cory Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Roger.  I appreciate the support you’ve given both me and my label!


Thanks to Cory for his time & effort with the interview, and for supplying the pictures used through-out the interview.  Altar Of Wastes website/web-store can be found here

Roger Batty
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