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Under Black Wings [2006-11-06]

Campbell Kneale is most known for his work with New Zealand noise/drone/experimental project Birchville Cat Motel, but he also is has another project the horror soundtrack/doom paradise that is Black Boned Angel. So far he has released two full lengths: Supereclipse and this year's Bliss & Void Inseparable, as well as a few limited releases and an EP called Eternal Hunger. Here's what Campbell had to say regarding Black Boned Angel.

m[m] What made you decide to form Black Boned Angel as a separate entity from your other projects?
Campbell Well, it seemed perfectly natural really. There is no way Black Boned Angel had any real relation to the work I have been doing as Birchville Cat Motel, and Birchville has no intention of going 'doom' or anything like that. It made perfect sense to give this music its own name and identity that was free of the gravity of Birchville Cat Motel. Having said that, Black Boned Angel's biggest influence is Birchville Cat Motel and I was interested at the time in making minimalism that had more in common with rock than art music. A sense of excitement that is SO lacking in a lot of minimal music (especially with the rise and rise of the 666laptop666 as a live performance tool) and so present in music you are probably embarrassed to admit you actually like (judas Priest?).

m[m] Have you thought of combining Black Boned Angel with other forces, like sunn0))) and if you could collaborate with anyone (living or dead) who would it be?
Campbell I guess Black Boned Angel has been pretty single-minded in its approach to making music and the idea of collaborations is maybe a little premature yet. Having said that we have been approached by a number of people about the idea. I have just begun work on collaboration with Canadian scum/sludgers Nadja... they rule and we are swapping drones in the mail to make what I think will be one hell of a record. Live, Black Boned Angel has invited certain people to play with us as our 'drone section'. Antony Milton (of black tantric metal band Mrtyu and the Pseudoarcana label) has been playing violin with us at a few shows, just pinning down the right note for me and James to pound away over the top of. We have invited Jules Desmond of 1/3 Octave Band to play bass for us at some stage too. we thought we needed more bottom end... ha ha! I talked briefly with Pauline Olivieros at the Instal festival in Scotland in 2005. She seemed really articulate about what we were doing and really enjoyed the whole performance. I immediately had flashes of a "Black Boned Angel featuring Pauline Olivieros" album. Wouldnít that be cool?

m[m]How do you go about composing ideas for your long tracks, like the hour long Bliss & Void Inseparable?
Campbell Isnít that a little bit like a magician telling you how he performs his tricks? It's a very natural process. Like any other band I suppose, songs just fall out of the sky when they are ready. Very little 'composition' takes place, and things just evolve into what feels right. Recording with Birchville Cat Motel has taught me how to be patient with sound, to not rush, and develop the immersive qualities of the sound you are working with. Black Boned Angel merely reframes that same idea in a rock/metal/soundtrack context. Bliss & Void Inseparable is just one riff, with an intro, and an outro. But in reality, because of its immersive nature, it becomes so much more than that over time.

m[m]Black boned angel is clear influence by all things horror-dipped, be it horror soundtracks, films or imagery. Tell us some of your direct influences on your work?
Campbell I think it would be natural to suggest that Black Boned Angel is another 'post-Earth' band. I guess thatís true, but to be honest, the whole Earth/sunnO)))/Boris/Corrupted thing is not my biggest influence. I own Earth2 and a couple of Corrupted records but thatís all. Iím more into early Swans (slow crushing rhythm!), Iron Maiden (twin guitar heaven!), unorthodox black metal (so beautifully unlistenable!)... but also My Bloody Valentine, HŁsker DŁ, Conrad/Cale/Maclise... which is perhaps what separates Black Boned Angel from the dooom crowd. There is a sense of beauty in Black Boned Angel that is really important to the overall sound. Its not just about blackness, more about blackness in its relation to the light. Like being in hell, but also being able to see heaven just next door. It might be truer to say that Black Boned Angel is more influenced by religion than horror. the imagery we have used is pretty esoteric and 'dark-buddist' (for lack of a better word). Its about attaining enlightenment through chanting, meditation, repetition, memorisation, trance... etc. Transcending the shit of the world by walking through it.

m[m] You mentioned religion as been an influence- do you believe in a heaven and hell?
Campbell Difficult question. No... Not in the traditional Christian sense. I do believe in an all powerful force that somehow establishes an order of some kind on the universe. Maybe itís 'God', maybe its 'nature', maybe its some kind of extreme mathematics, but something holds everything together. Heaven and Hell are Christian words, and Christian ideas. Other religions have different words to describe similar ideas. From what I have read, there is no biblical justification for an afterlife of torture. There is however biblical justification for a total annihilation of the soul... meaning no afterlife... a "second death". But 'hell'? No... the idea is incomputable for a God who calls himself 'Love'.

m[m]The other thing that I think divides you from other doom like bands are the monk like chanted voices: where do these come from- sampled or self produced?
Campbell I prefer the word 'stolen'. Does this mean Iím going to hell?

m[m] Your stuff almost works like a sound to imagery movie, do you script or storyboard albums?
Campbell No, never. You canít make music that breathes if you are going to cast its lungs in concrete.

m[m]Have you ever thought of Black Bone Angel performing live?
Campbell We played a European tour in late 2005 and headlined the Instal Festival in Scotland at the end of that tour. Was a pretty great experience and so different to Birchville Cat Motel's experience of touring. I was joined by my good friend James Kirk (known for his work in New Zealand freenoise legends, Sandoz Lab Technicians). Essentially we were a guitar duo, and I played drums at the same time. we perform every now and then here in New Zealand, usually unadvertised.

m[m]Have you every wanted to do any film work to go with your music?
Campbell Birchville Cat Motel has worked quite a lot with live imagery but Black Boned Angel has not ventured into that arena yet. I sometimes have a problem with live visuals... so many bands I have been to see end up weakening their music with visuals. They distract you from the music. And then the music distracts you from the visuals. I find my attention constantly being split between the two different media. It takes some very skilful use of visuals to actually get the tow to work as ONE, and if you canít find that space in the music or imagery, you should not go anywhere near visuals. They can make your band suck.

m[m] What Scares you?
Campbell being a husband and a father. Not being loved.

m[m]List your top ten creepy/scary records (as itís near Halloween!)?
Campbell Awwwwww... in no particular order of course:
Swans - Cop
Devoid of All Mercy - Your Children Left with the StrangerCDR
Burzum -Filosofem
Diamanda Galas - Plague Mass
Buddhist throat singing records
Gummo, Eraserhead, Nosferatu... (I know, they're not records)
The Cure - Pornography
Sonic Youth - Bad Moon Rising
Urgh... I canít think of any more. Records donít scare me like they used to.

m[m]Where do you see your self going next? Will you follow the with more album length tracks or shorter pieces?
Campbell We will go wherever it seems right at the time. Each piece of music is its own entity and should not be constrained by too many pre-conceived ideas. I think that in order to have any kind of longevity as a musical project, Black Boned Angel needs to remove itself from the faddish elements of 'doom' metal and approach the whole 'heaviness' idea from a range of different viewpoints. The world doesnít need another GrimmRobe Demos, or another Absolutego or whatever... itís important to develop your own voice. Black Boned Angel has begun to mark out a new path with Bliss & Void Inseparable and I can reveal to you that the NEW Black Boned Angel album (currently halfway through completion) is a whole new take on heaviness.

Thanks to Campbell for the interview. More details about Black Boned Angel and his other projects can found at his lables site here. All Pictures were supllied and used by Kind Permission of Campbell Kneale.

Roger Batty
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