I read a interview on Rogue Planet with Steve Moore, the singer of two of the founders of the conceptual project called The Unravelling, where he talks about the moment when he was diagnosed with cancer back in 2011.
When you’re creating the kind of musical work that Moore is known for, a diagnosis of a potentially terminal illness is enough to take the whole thing down. You know, fuck everything else, this is the moment when you take one road for another with little thought to coming back to the road that lead you to the creative process.
Maybe it took getting the okay when his cancer went into remission that he felt confident enough for Gustavo de Beauville and him to come back and put another album together and as he says in the interview I referred to:
The album is very much about completely destroying that vision in yourself, tearing a hole and seeing through it. Freedom. Lifting the veil. An end to self-delusion and how urgent that is.
So I can only imagine, all things being linear, that Moore was forced to destroy and rebuild himself worth several lifetimes over and over again.
At first glance the title of the first track The Hydra’s Heart hints at a different direction from the hydra references I’m used to seeing in progressive metal/industrial rock music — as it’s usually working an angle of mystery to stimulate a listener’s imagination, kind of like staring at the surface of a cereal box while shoving spoonfuls of dyed-sugar into your face, imagining the anatomy of water creature I’ve never considered.
I guess that’s where I thought about how writer’s block will usually have me “throwing darts” at some phrasing or the first natural thing that comes to mind and out of my mouth, when I’m trying to find a song title.
But as I was only at “the door” of a mysterious room — think Silent Hill 3 — little did I realize that I was in store for something more compelling than I gave it credit for as Moore’s lyrics walk me in further, into that mysterious room to find there’s more to this than I previously thought because he entices me with lyrics like:
The fines are high but the protest is free
Get your permission slip and come sit next to me
Who’s that hiding in the corner of the dream?
Hyena’s child laughing at the thought stream
Is it this abstract by design? Do I need to be outstanding at figuring out riddles to get through this? What am I in for?
But again, it’s only the beginning and he’s not giving me much to work with. And by design it’s an entrance worthy of a serial killer. You know, they’ve got you before you realize it and the next thing you know, you’re rolling down the street engulfed in flames, strapped to a wheelchair.
Then we go into Lucky Me, which is distinctly produced and stripped down metal music using only two instruments, guitar and voice. But what helps this track stand out is its simplicity as a song where a few twists and turns in melody naturally complicates the song’s structure and when they add background effects, it charges up the atmospheric aesthetic of the song.
The concept of space occurred to me when listening to this where in describing the track Lucky Me where the event or the performance of the song is assembled by recordings made from different places. The performance of the track alone is a event taking place within a larger space I’m forced to be conscious of, which is as all recorded music is intended to be heard.
For instance, I did with this album what I’ve done with others where I listen to these tracks at random to see how my overall view of the album changes. The result with this release wasn’t a good one as it made me feel that the album fell right in line with the rest of the numetal /goth genre of over-thinking metal music. But listening to this in the order intended creates a far more linear story line where I have a chance to become familiar with it.
My favorite track has to be Out Of The Depths, where it’s a great track for Steve Moore’s vocal cues combined with being appropriately moody.
The imagination of both Moore and de Beauville is enticing to me as well as their presentation through the music. They intend to move us into their world gradually with the art electronic textures which have a light-weight impact of synth metal a la God Lives Underwater. At times I fear the cheesy stuff is around the corner but they’re not musing about the hard knocks of a teenager’s life or preaching about angst you eventually get over, with time. They’re telling stories and they’re telling them well.
For instance, I was caught off guard with Master Drone because of it’s standard metal guitar send off at the beginning. But it becomes something else entirely, morphing into these different areas of song experimentation.
Some of this genre’s best moments are relived in this release when you hear the obvious stylized influences of bands such as Tool or even Filter but they don’t dwell on that as The Unravelling have their own style.
Even with a track like The Fearless Seed where they channel A Perfect Circle, shows they have tastes in that area where ambient melody and tone dominate the darker spectrum of rock.
This duo is also very secure with where they are in their process and they’re not interested in creating grand hooks or pop music. They’re interested in getting to the center of the experience, they want you to be with them in the center of the hive they’ve discovered.
But i’d also like to get to what we’re also all thinking here which is the NIN element to this, so I’ll say that The Downward Spiral is definitely summoned with songs like Revolt, but in saying that I would love to see them recreate another period in NIN’s history when Reznor’s Broken EP was also made into one long conceptual music video. I think it would be awesome if they did the same thing with this entire album.
If that’s not enough smoke blowing, let me point out the chord changes here aren’t complicated. Actually, everything seems to be in one tone for this “album” but the engineering of the tracks, electronics and everything else is smart to use that foundation to trick us into believing we’re listening to something new. Those are the moments when the emotions are heightened, grandiose moments are put in place.
I’ll go ahead and say it, that I’ve been thinking about putting together a compilation of tracks for listeners who prefer more theater in their music and these guys have made that list.
Go download their album Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision for FREE on:
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*Fleshed out a line of text (3:25 PM – CST, 09/02/2015)
*Corrected the name Jason Moore to Steve Moore (3:27 PM – CST, 09/02/2015)
*Corrected grammar, revised text & added tags (10:24 PM – CST, 09/02/2015)