Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interview with Echelon

Recently I tossed a few questions towards Austrian avantgarde black metal act Echelon. Having previously (and also just recently) reviewed their first full-length album, "Vivito! Creato! Moritor!" (link provided below of course!), I had hoped to be able to gather more insight into the strange and compelling mindset that lies at the core of this deeply-philosophical collective. Of course nothing is that simple when you're talking about an act as complex as this one! Read on to see what I mean!  

Andy-How did Echelon come about?

Echelon-Scene: A smoky room somewhere at the city limits of Vienna. There is a laptop on a huge wooden desk and its light glimmers through the thick smoke.

Time: 19:11

Person: M.X.: Guitar, Backing Vocals, Programming

*The light of the laptop gets brighter, you can hear the clicking of the mouse and soon you can hear the high pitched clattering of a keyboard*

About ten years ago I had my first guitar and by hitting the pick harsh on the strings, uncoordinated, with full distortion, I tried to create something that sounded like Transilvanian Hunger. I wanted to make music to replay the stuff I liked. The seasons passed and I found myself playing in a band with my friends, who also play on ECHELON today. The longer you keep playing with others the greater the need gets, the need for creating something on your own, something which is more like yourself. And that is how ECHELON works. It is a distillate of our creativity.

Andy-How would you describe the band's sound for someone who has never had the pleasure of hearing you guys?

Echelon-Time: 19:18

*Another cigarette emits the strong odor of tobacco and burned paper. Now there is a mug on the desk and M.X. takes a sip, only to lay his hands on the keyboard again shortly after*

How do we sound? 

*He is looking in the air and takes a puff, his left leg is hammering on the floor* 

How do I describe our music to someone who has not heard it yet? 

*Another puff from the cigarette, the leg is shaking up and down erratically* 

Our music is definitely rooted in Black Metal, it contains various stylistic elements of this genre. Most likely it is the vocals which are harsh and restless alt-hough they remain clear. The drums have a slight tendency to blast beats and are mostly playful and jazzy. The guitars indulge in melodies which are rhythmically interrupted by the bass. Sometimes they are in the background to give space to the bass and to portrait acoustic patterns into the minds. Sometimes we charge forward, sometimes we stop abruptly to immerse into a state of deep mental reflection only to charge forward again moments later to lead the listener into a direction he would not have dreamed about.

Andy-For those of us who might be "philosophically challenged" could you explain the lyrical-content of "Vivito! Creato! Moritor!"?

Echelon-Time: 19:40

*The cigarette has followed its predecessors into the ashtray, the smoke gets lesser and exits the room through the open window where simultaneously the sounds of a city at eve enter the scenery*

*Clicking, typing, hammering of the leg* 

Another question arouses my attention, namely, which topic we should use for our LP. A painter, not as impressive as his work, crossed my path. His portrayal of war caught me. How does war look like? What is war actually? 

* The hands get of the keyboard, the legs stop...* 

Is there a picture which catches war as he actually is? The idea in a platonically way? The archetype of war? This abstract thing which is contained in every war? Let us take a look on this ex-ample: think of a picture of a thing, anything. Now start to dissect the picture layer by layer, reduce it to details. 

*Halt, The view seems to penetrate the display. The roaring of a truck breaks the silence and the fingers start typing again* 

Do you still recognize the thing? is the image of this thing created in your mind although the real picture does not show it anymore? Is maybe the color or geometry alone which can create the thing in your mind? This is the idea, the archetype and is there an artwork of war which is capable of doing such? 

*The mug converges to the mouth, another sip, thinking* 

We focused on this question together with the artists Callot, de Goya, Manet and Dix and described how they tried to display war. Beginning with the harsh realism of Callot up to the subtle, judgmental style of Manet. Dix follows on a parallel way and evolves nearly as the other three to create his triptych War, his masterpiece.

Andy-Please give us an idea of what a live show would be like with  Echelon?

Echelon-Time: 20:11

*The window is closed, only a dull traffic sound can be heard, mixed with the sounds of a train*

A concert has to have three columns (1) we only have one color for the light, mostly blue (2) we have interludes with parts of Dix diary entries (3) we do not make any announcements. This is how the concert becomes one single unit and it makes it possible for the audience to concentrate only on the music. 

*M.X. stands up and looks across the room. After he sat down again he continues to write* 

For me it is essential to convey the concept of the LP live as well and I think we can achieve this via this three columns.

Andy-What's next for the band in 2014?

Echelon-Time: 20:25

*M.X. is again sitting in front of the laptop, smoking. The coldness is fighting an ongoing battle with the heater and the left leg is again hammering a rhythm, copied by the right one.*

Right now we are trying to play live as often as possible and we are looking forward for the release date of our LP and the Special Edition on 24.01. We hope that we can provide something unique for everyone with this Special Edition We also started working on new songs and get slowly to the point...

*again the view across the room, smoke comes out of the nose and the mug wanders to the mouth* 

...where we can talk about acoustic patterns and ideas. But who knows where the journey is leading us?

Time: 20:32

*The mouse wanders across the display, opens the program, closes another one. One minute later M.X. is sitting on his chair with his eyes focusing the display. A nod with the head later, the mail is heading through the binary stream* 

And there you have it! "Interesting" to say the least right? But that makes sense (kind of) when you're talking about a interesting band like this one. And since I'm always going on and, make that PREACHING, about the virtues of marching to the beat of your own drummer "interesting" is essential if we are to continue to evolve (music-wise) as a species and fully-expand the concept of experimental black metal. If you find yourself in need of something new, more creative and yes, a release that will help flex those brain muscles (so to speak), then be sure to check out "Vivito! Creato! Moritor!"

Review of  "Vivito! Creato! Moritor!":!+Creato!+Moritor! 

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