Over the last few years, Shifted’s imprint Avian has made a point of discovering new unheard talents and offering them the due space and patience to blossom unhinderedly. Amongst them and in addition to the many side projects of well-established artists such as Kilner or The Empire Line, production entities like 400ppm, Pris or SHXCXCHCXSH have surfed the crest of the wave and it certainly has a lot to do with Guy Brewer’s generous label ethos.
By the end of the month Avian will drop their new instalment, an eight-track drone/dark ambient affair courtesy of Irish newcomer Andre Gough aka Verge. Titled ‘Emblematic Ruin’, Gough’s debut makes for a compelling break from 4/4 functionality and other beaconed, trussed-up audio terrains.
As menacing echoes and brooding vibratos collide and crack, slowly but surely merging into supple and piercing reliefs lost in horizontal nothingness, you’re in for an ultimate cruise upon the murky waters of Lethe. Through darkness and despair, when all feels so draped in a heavy, all-consuming silence, Verge sends out a last call for the retrieval of innocence. A full-on spooky ducking in the impalpable matter of noise itself. Haunting.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"When I started writing the record, a theme that I contemplated at the time was around the fundamental human need for symbols and emblems to reaffirm identity and existence."
What’s been your main source of inspiration for ‘Emblematic Ruin’? What kind of meaning has this title to you?
When I started writing the record, a theme that I contemplated at the time was around the fundamental human need for symbols and emblems to reaffirm identity and existence. It was about how this focus on emblems, symbolism and territory, if misused, can be divisive and fracture society.
The record is highly evocative visual-wise, and functions as according to a narrative line; it could actually well be the soundtrack to a film. Do you think of images and/or storylike structures when composing?
Apart from the previous thought, I didn’t have a definitive narrative or storyline when writing this record. However, I tend to get drawn to certain sounds when composing a track and I suppose those sounds conjure up subconscious images or thoughts in my mind.
All the tracks were written around the same time in more or less a sequential manner and maybe that’s where the soundtrack aspect comes from. I think the tracks form a cohesive listening experience with a particular flow and I suppose this imitates the journey-like experience of a movie soundtrack.
You’re from Ireland, and I could easily imagine your tracks being played over images of the wild Irish landscapes and raging sea. How do your surroundings inflect your music?
I think you might be onto something with this as landscapes and nature are a pretty big inspiration for me. I’ve always had an attraction to forests and mountains from a young age. Maybe some of those images are subconsciously running though my head when writing a track. I try to immerse myself in that environment quite often.
It’s good to lose yourself in the elements, landscape and escape the stress of the modern world and technology. Also, I was always drawn to the Scandinavian imagery and backdrops used by Black Metal bands on album covers and photos. As well as the natural environment, urban industrial landscapes are also a big inspiration. Belfast, where I live, is a very industrial city.
I guess you spend quite lots of time and energy polishing the textures and carving out the envelopes. How much time do you usually spend on a track? Do you work on one track at a time?
It all depends. I like to work quite quickly. Sometimes a track can take a day or sometimes a track can take upwards of 2 weeks. For some tracks, I spend a large proportion of the time getting the main texture bed and soundscaping down. In others, I’ll take a more improvisational or impulsive approach. For me to progress with a track I need to hit on a particular sound, texture or melody within a certain timeframe.
"I was always drawn to the Scandinavian imagery and backdrops used by Black Metal bands on album covers and photos. As well as the natural environment, urban industrial landscapes are also a big inspiration."
Even though I stated earlier that the tracks were kind of written in a sequential manner, that statement is only true to a certain extent. I have a tendency to start working on a track, then get to a certain point, jump to writing a new track, then go back to the previous track. I’ll then end up composing the two in parallel and maybe finish both around the same time.
However, I don’t like working on more than two to three tracks at a time. I sometimes end up with a lot of half finished ideas/tracks sitting on my hard drive. Ill keep them for a certain length of time and if I go back, listen and still like what I hear, Ill finish them. If I don’t like what I hear then I end up deleting.
What gear did you use the most for this record?
I work mainly within the box. I don’t have a lot of outboard or hardware gear. Most of the sounds were made using different synths, plugins and virtual stomp boxes/amplifiers etc. The guitar on the record was recorded direct to Logic via an interface. I have recently invested in an integrated hardware/software style setup and having fun with that at the moment. It offers a good workflow.
Do you use any field recordings or are these all sounds produced by yourself or from a sample library?
I didn’t use any field recordings for this record but I am thinking about doing that for some future productions. All the synth sounds were created with a lot of tweaking and the application of various effects. No sample libraries were used in the creation of this record. I have tapped into some sample libraries for previous tracks in the past but when I started this record, I wanted complete control and ownership of creating my own sounds and the satisfaction that comes with that.
What was your first encounter with drone/dark ambient music? What makes this genre so appealing to you?
Drone/industrial/ambient noise has a real appeal for me. I really like the textures, ambience and atmosphere associated with that type of music. It’s music that you can immerse and lose yourself in while it burns slowly and develops. I like the subtle nuances that come out if there is a certain amount of repetition and I also like it’s hypnotic qualities. Although I have a passion for this style of music, my musical taste is far reaching and includes a wide variety of genres.
What are your plans for the coming weeks?
My plans for the coming weeks include waiting poised for the release date and seeing the full record released on vinyl and digitally as well as devoting some time to the creation of a few more tracks.
Emblematic Ruin is scheduled for release 27th March 2017, order a copy from Avian.