Thursday, April 4, 2013

... enter the darkness of the void : an Interview with CHAOS ECHOES !!!

Those who follow closely my posts on facebook won't contradict the fact that french quatuor CHAOS ECHOES is one my fave bands of the past months (and for a long time to come...). Their amazing debut 'Tone of Things to Come' (reviewed here some months ago) is an absolute must-have for fans of blackened death/doom, my fave french release of 2012 with the stunning 'winter' from Northwinds and you all know that this last year there has been an exceptionnal amount of contenders in the heaviest genres of Metal that concern us here (Huata, Crown, Wheelfall...) !
Not just their experimental edge provide them from any limiting old-school label, not just their ominous creativity and blackened edge remind the grandeur of Necros Christos, CHAOS ECHOES is more than that : intricate, malignant, visceral, dissonant, twisted, droning and shredding, CHAOS ECHOES musical style is all that, alternatively or at the same time, of course it certainly has limits but nobody knows them until now (especially not their inventive creators themselves) !!!

Already propeled among the most interesting underground Metal bands of the European scene, CHAOS ECHOES owes nothing to anyone, they also worked hard to release by themselves the album on physical format - for a very professional and personalized result; but now it's also good to know that their development will be supported by the solid Debemur Morti Productions in the future. Here's a long interview with Kalevi Uibo (guit/voc), a  nice and resolute guy... watch out for CHAOS ECHOES, there's lots more to expect from them in the future !  

Hi Kalevi, thanx for accepting to answer the following questions ! First, from when and how did concretely mature the idea of forming CHAOS ECHOES ? Not too long after Bloody Sign’s split-up in any case… How did you react personally to the end of this long adventure, with a certain fatality or rather more with relief in the end ?

Chaos Echoes was born the day Bloody Sign ended. Then it took months to make things concrete, to think about different concepts we wanted to delve into.
Actually the idea is always in evolution, and should be for the forthcoming years.
The end of Bloody Sign didn’t really affect me, the music goes on, it’s just the burial of a name. Maybe my experience in music makes that I don’t have a sad feeling, I knew the end of Bloody Sign would be the birth of a new refreshing band, so I was quite excited. Still nowadays, I don’t feel any pain about that split.

Despite the geographical distances between you guys (Tétar lives in the north of France, Stefan near Paris, you and your brother in the East of France) was it the best line-up you could imagine for this new project ?

Actually I’m the only one living in the east, Tétar and my brother are north residents. I cannot know if this is the best line up, but this is a hell of a line up for sure. There’s a lot of respect between all of us, we enjoy a lot all our rehearsals, we feel in a good process, we speak a lot, we play a lot.

Tone of Things to Come has received many positive reviews over the past months, it seems that you’re even a bit surprised by the proportions of this good feedback… ?

Definitely! Maybe it is because things were quite hard with Bloody Sign and it was always a kind of fight (and a pain considering how hard it can be to make your own promotion as a band) to be considered and to spread our music. So yes, I’m really amazed how easy things are going for now. Still we have to be careful.

Do lessons from the past encourage you to act this way for C.E., I mean record in a very short time a mini-album as 1st attempt rather than an album, release it by yourselves first… ?

To release it by ourselves was important, as we were a new band and we knew how we wanted to introduce our music to people. As we were our own master, we arranged everything as we wanted, from time schedule, recording session... to the artwork and manufacture, digisleeve, obi strip… a lot of things that most of labels won't be able to understand and pay for , as they would consider it too arty (which means "useless" in their mind, most of the time) and expensive for the first record of a new band. We had a small budget, but we tried to be clever by finding solutions to make it happen the way we wanted.

It’s a reality that CHAOS ECHŒS black shapes of experimentation really offer something different from what is displayed in the DM scene for a (too) long time but don’t you feel a bit embarrassed by all this sudden flood of compliments when you guys have been playing death metal for about 15 years? Do you think that it’s this way of experimenting that made a major difference in people’s mind or it’s more a question of periods ?

Yes, I feel a bit embarrassed, and I really don’t know why. Of course, this experimenting process can open the gates to new listeners, and I think all underground scenes have more correlations than in the past. Thus, people are more open to listen to that. I also tend to feel that we have a good band name – which makes a difference –, and we are into a process which is beyond/above music. I mean Chaos Echœs is not only music: visual art is also important, ideas and concepts are also important. This has to be a kind of total Art which encompasses everything.

Before entering the studio, you guys had rehearsed all together just once, the time of a week-end about three months before… did some exchange of ideas/demos happen in between or did you arrive in studio with just this unique common practice and then things were left to improvisation for a great part, how did it happen exactly?

I had recorded a lot of the ideas and basics of the songs. All the improvisations are not chaotic stuff and absolutely not a “hey, let's smoke a joint and jam!” kind of thing. All those parts are ideas and intents at first. Ideas you have to follow to get this kind of vibe and freedom.

And we had to be really focused!... That’s how it has to work with such a short practice!

About vocals it’s not that easy for the listener to discern who sings exactly when, so could you please help us in describing the shared vocal duties ?

Actually everybody is singing a bit on this record. Ilmar & Stefan are singing on "R i s e". I'm singing most of the raw death/black vocals on "The Innermost Depths of Knowledge" and "Black Mantra". Stefan is singing at the beginning of "The Innermost Depths of Knowledge" and the last part of "Black Mantra". And Ilmar is singing the haunting polyphonic vocal part in the middle of "The Innermost Depths of Knowledge", with some other vocal noises. Tétar is more into backing vocals.

A priori one could think differently about the shared soloing (Tétar’s style being for the genre certainly groovier than your tone which is rather more filled with morbid DeMentia) but maybe things are not so obvious in reality… How do you see this? On the songs “The Innermost Depths of Knowledge” and “Black Mantra” it seems that you guys are really transcended by this dual of soloing. Is it something you felt when recording and/or afterwards ?

I really enjoy this kind of guitar dialogues, on “Innermost…”, this is more a guitar battle ; on “Black Mantra”, this is more like sharing melodies and a kind of epic thing. This is quite important that each musician gives what he is, it would be stupid to make guitar solo battles if both musicians play the same way. And I guess we both know we have to emphasize a bit this side to really show two sides of things.

Occult or not, I’m pretty much miseducated in terms of symbolism, so what does represent the drawing on the left part of the inner cover of the album? And this abyss represented on the front cover, does it lead to the unknown or to the inevitable loss of humanity?

The drawings of the inner cover represent the affinities of sounds and harmonics, the law of octaves, the idea that all sounds reach unity through diversity and their relation between each others. This is what you are all about as body and soul, and this is what universe is also about, galaxies, planets, beings, atoms…

The cover art is just a kind of environment. It is an intention, a direction. Combined to our music, each one's mind and feelings will give to the visual its own meaning. It's a trip to each one's unknown. Something between attraction and disgust...

You and your brother are coming from l'Alsace which has also revealed another mighty band in 2012 with CROWN, do you know them and enjoy their music? There’s also Jizzlober, Six in Line, The Pledge of Cain, Bull Terrier, not forgetting Nathaniel Colas (ex Résistance) who shouldn’t remain inactive a second year in a row ;) … Do you know those ones too and see a chance of playing some local show(s) with any of them in the future ?

Yes, except the guys from Pledge of Cain, I know all those bands, and Nataniel is one of my best friend (actually you’re right, as he just started a new project with an ex-member from… Pledge of Cain). Playing with them would be really great, and we already spoke a bit with Stéphane from Crown about possible shows/tours together in the future.

By the way this reminds me that I met you briefly last year at the Grass Company in Tilburg while I was having a breakfast/lunch with Stéphane Azam from Crown ! this leads me to ask you which bands did you enjoy the most seing live at last year’s Roadburn ? Will you be there next month ?

Yes, I remember our short meeting. This year, it won't be possible for me, also the first announcements didn’t really convince me. Last year… well, I really liked Voïvod, Yob, Om, Dusk among many others.

Chaos Echoes first live appearances took place in very special circumstances at the Kill-Town Deathfest last year with just you and Ilmar playing as a duo for a serie of 3 live sets during the week-end… a lot of improvisation there but was any of them including the songs from the album ? how different was each set from the others ?

All the shows were all different and all improvised. Actually we played 3 live sets per day, most of the time with our friend Marcello Aguirre from Evil Spirit on vocals. 20 minutes before each show, we just tried to think about the ideas we wanted to reach, the frame. We didn’t play any of the songs from “Tone…”. One month before the festival, we've recorded improvisations at Le Bon Home Studio for two days, as a kind of training, and also to feel on the same level. Some of those ideas were developed at Killtown Death fest. And a CD from those improvisations is on the way to be released on Chaos Echœs Products as well.

Next festival scheduled is the Hell’s Pleasure 2013 edition with a stunning line-up including Portal, Satan, Electric Wizard…. I guess you feel particularly honoured to share the stage with the aussie maniacs but also with the English HM legends ?

I feel honored to play at this festival with only one recording. We played there with Bloody Sign years ago, and it was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed the people out there. I’m quite crazy about Portal since “The End Mills” EP, and it’s been a lot of years I’m waiting to see them at Hell’s Pleasure, which is, in my opinion, the best festival they could end. So I’m honored to be among all those bands.

Is there any other gigs planed yet? Due to your other activities and other various reasons, playing live is maybe not a priority for you, how do you consider the propositions that you get ?

Live is very important for us, but we have to be patient. We made a lot of mistakes with Bloody Sign, especially when it comes to perform live and tours ; we don’t want to loose too much money anymore, and as we live quite far from each others, just the gasoline makes it already expensive!
But we're working with Kill-Town Bookings, and we really hope to tour when our first album will be released… by the end of 2013.
We want and need to play live. Because many things in our music are ephemeral, and come alive when performed live… When an improvisation is recorded, and you listen to it many times, the feeling is no more “improvised”. You loose the primeval idea of it.

You recently rehearsed, was it to work and finalize some songs for next album? Did the excellent reception given to “Tone…” consolidate your vision of C.E.’s actual and future sound ?

We try to rehearse each month on a 3-day schedule. Right now, it works quite well ; and yes, we’re into next album songs. This is always a kind of pain and passion, but this is the same for almost all bands I guess. Sometimes you come with great ideas that just don’t work, and sometimes you come with a very simple thing you don’t really believe in, and it makes a fucking great tune. The good reception given to “Tone…” puts us under pressure, so it’s not that easy to channel this feeling. But it’s a great feeling you have to control.

You signed on Debemur Morti quickly after having released the CD by yourselves but I know they’re going to make a new edition of it, could you please give details about that ? Will it be enriched with lyrics, more artwork, etc… ?

Debemur Morti Productions will release “Tone…” on vinyl in the forthcoming months. And we're excited to put our hands on the final product, because we think DMP is among the few labels to understand what we mean when we're talking about total Art. So the idea behind this release is to put out some kind of a digisleeve edition replica, with only slight differences, but not an expended version with new artwork or extra stuff.

This is the first step of our collaboration with DMP. We'll hopefully work on something totally new with them for our next album – which should be recorded this summer.

Chaos Echoes is basically attached to the DM scene but can also certainly appeal to Doom and Black Metal fans, I’m sure even some Sludge filthy-heads can join the ranks too… Do you feel a special sensibility for any of those styles in particular? What do you think about the more and more frequent hybridization of those genres?

As a fan of music, I listen to these genres as well. Actually I’m quite afraid when I read about hybridization, as I think it’s already too intellectual. One shouldn’t need to think about hybridization. Let it flows, let the sound speaks through your body, and listen to what it is telling you. If all those styles are deeply in you, then, there’s no hybrid stuff coming out there! It’s only your own view, your own feeling, your own entity.

I know you guys have very eclectic tastes and play in very different kind of musical projects, does Chaos Echoes materialize in some way the most extreme and darker side of you as individuals ? Do people working with you on those other projects easily imagine you in such extreme conditions as in C.E. ?

I don’t know, and this is something I don’t think about... and I don’t want.
Yes, all musicians we play with in other musical projects know about this side of things. Some of them think it’s funny, and some others get an interest to listen to a kind of music they don’t know.

About merchandising… if I had only one reproach to address to C.E. , that would be about your T-shirt, sorry but I think it sux , please tell me you gonna work on a better design !?

Maybe this is a useless answer from a useless question, but… Actually I find it very good! I don't know, maybe your dressing code sucks as well! ;) (well-done dude !)
So all I can tell you is to watch out for our next T-shirt, which should be out sometime soon. It kicks ass… to my opinion! (great news, so my question wasn't completely useless !)

And thanks a lot for the interview!

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