Year of no Light

The Bearded Russian returns, this time with french sludge/shoegaze masters Year of No Light. We talked about touring,inspirations, the french scene and a tiny island, that goes a lot deeper than expected.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us what Year of No Light is all about?

Johan - We started the band in 2001 with the intention of playing slow, heavy and celestial music. We had some line-up changes, released a demo in 2004, a first album ‘Nord’ in 2006, several splits, a live CD @ Roadburn festival… and now we are back with our second album ‘Ausserwelt’.

Your line-up changed since the release of your debut LP, "Nord". What happened?

Johan - Our singer decided to leave the band, hence it was a good opportunity to make all the changes we had in mind without having the time to do it as we were committed to play shows. Shiran from Monarch arrived at the 3rd guitar & Mathieu from Aeroflot arrived at the second drum kit + keyboards.

You guys played at Roadburn, one of the biggest festivals in Europe. What can you tell us about it?

Johan - It was incredible to be invited to play there. Lots of famous bands, friends from all over Europe, crazy backline for a huge sound & hazed atmosphere…

"Ausserwelt", your new album, just came out. What are the main ideas behind it?

Johan - Recording the new songs we had with the new line-up to tour with a record corresponding to what we play now.

Pierre - A celebration of the sensitive world through the medium of our amps. A down tuned detestation of modernity. The smell of the woods after a heavy rain, the coldness of a gun after a heavy night. More drugs, more volume, less life.

What does the title and artwork represent?

Mathieu - Briefly, it is related to the “beyond”. You can see it as theological or metaphysical. We wanted the tracks and the album to be introspective and tripping, like a journey into dark paths of the subconscious or into some long ago forgotten worlds and human feelings. It can also be the perfect soundtrack to your last car ride, in deep deep night, hypnotized by kinetic energy and with a wall right in front of you.

Johan - A record is more than just music. Artwork is totally part of it. It’s like adding another dimension to the record and a way to go further.

Mathieu - Greg Vezon, the drawer, was fond of Arnold Böklin’s “Insel der Toten“... And this idea was totally okay with our vision of the album... So he gave us his great version of this incredible painting, with a kind of „Black-Metal“ spirit... What we wanted was this central point in the painting where there’s a light that you can follow, a light which attracts you, but in no way you can know what’s beyond... It’s like an invitation to the unknown... It’s bright but also creepy... It’s maybe a metaphor of the subconscious, for the psyche... So...you’ll be on your own in these woods, and even if the island looks pretty tiny, it reveals itself as very, very deep...

Your debut,"Nord", sounded like a mixture of all things heavy,slow and dark with some melodic,introspective moments. Can you tell us what are the main changes between "Nord"'s sound and "Ausserwelt"?

Shiran- We wanted it to sound more heavy and abstract than “Nord”. That’s all that matter for me.

Mathieu - We just make heavy and progressive music and we really don’t care about labeling. When you look at what our audience looks like, you can see that it comes from Black-metal to Concrete Music. That’s pretty cool.

How did the line up changes affect the songwriting process for the new album?

Johan - It remains the same with more people involved, that’s all ! At the beginning we wanted to do also some vocals but in the end it worked fine without. Hence we decided to stay like that.

You guys seem to like stuff from the 80's, judging by your presence on the "Dark 80's" split with other french bands. Besides Joy Division, the band you covered, what other stuff do you like?

Johan - We all listen a lot of different music, it’s impossible to list everything but here’s some names :

Shiran - Iron Maiden,Weakling,Darkthrone Black Sabbath, Thergothon, Melvins, Ligeti, Angantyr, Morton Feldman and Entombed above all.

Jerome- My Bloody Valentine, Merzbow, Neil Young, Glenn Branca, Buried at Sea, Black Flag, an hypothetical version of Pachelbel's canon in D major covered by Ligeti...

Johan- Swans, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Buried At Sea, old Neurosis, Troum, Fennesz, Emeralds, Unsane, Botch and the Orb !

Mathieu - Joy Division, Neu!, Metallica, Neil Young, Burzum, Steve Reich, Ennio Morricone.

Pierre: Bathory, Bolt Thrower, Debussy, Codeine, Joy Division, Pink Floyd, Born Against, His Hero is gone, the Swans, Low, Can, My Dying Bride, Eric Satie and World War III.

Year of no Light has been compared with bands like Envy, Cult of Luna and Neurosis. What do you think of that comparison?

Johan - I think it’s made by lazy journalists who label like that every band playing slow music with melodies.

Pierre - By the way, we do not listen to Envy…

How is the french music scene nowadays? Is it easy for a band like Year of no Light to find places to play live and promote your works?

Shiran - I like to think that we’re friends with lot of different bands and I can fell a real bond between lot of different French bands from different scenes. I personally feel pretty close to bands like Pneu, Gasmask Terrör, Overmars, Aeroflot, Aluk Todolo, Habsyll, Hello sunshine, Mönarch, Abject Object, Darvulia, Austrasian Goat, The Enterprise, Chambre froide...

Mathieu - I don’t know… It really depends… Generally we’re nice and open-minded guys… We use to play in really different bands, from 8-Bit electronica to Drone, from vintage-electro-punk to über-doom and we have really cool relationships with very different people from really different scenes… But in the strict “Metal” or “Hardcore” scene, there can be a kind of dumb spirit of competition with a very strange sense of “deontology”, “ethics” and some bad situations can happen with stupid monkeys of some (generally) bad acts… But we don’t care a lot about that, back home, in Bordeaux, we chill with friends from garage, pop or crust-punk bands and everything’s perfect… I also think that the situation is far away better than, let’s say, 10 years ago when different scenes were much more hermetic to each others…

Pierre - I don’t know… I think I don’t care: the vast majority of our followers don’t live in this shitty country. I don’t give a fuck concerning the so called “national scene”. Anyway, we’re not a bunch of misanthropic guys: we just dislike consanguinity.

You guys played in Portugal in the past - how was it? Do you plan to return in the near future?

Johan - SWR fest was a really great moment for all of us. Team, audience & venue were perfect. What can I say ? Of course we hope to come back soon but you know we all work aside from the band and have limited time for touring so we try to satisfy everybody everywhere we can !

Pierre - It was an honor to play at this great fest. We all had great times there.


Devil Sold His Soul : The Second Coming

Three years after "A Fragile Hope", english six-piece Devil Sold His Soul return with "Blessed & Cursed",their first release with Century Media .The Bearded Russian talked with keyboards/electronics meister Paul about Download Festival, the new album and changing labels.

Please introduce yourself and explain, to those who don't know, what DSHS is all about.

Paul - Hi, I'm Paul from "Devil Sold His Soul". We're a metal band based in the UK that writes, records and tours heavy, epic music. We like to write stuff that has melody, riffs, quiet and heavy parts all thrown into the mix.

Your new album " Blessed & Cursed" comes out in July. What can you tell us about it?

Paul - Hopefully we've managed to push on with the styles and ideas started in the last album "A Fragile Hope". A mix of light and dark, despair and hope expressed in a medium of sound.

How different are the new songs from your previous material?

Paul - We're hoping that they are quite different but without being totally detached. They feel like they've come from the same place, but hopefully there's a lot more in the mix with these songs and enough of the DSHS essence to keep our fans happy and also interested by some evolution. We also have Leks on drums now, so there should be a lot more depth to the drumming parts -- we lost our last drummer just before we started writing "A Fragile Hope".

"A Fragile Hope" was released 3 years ago. Since then you changed labels, from Eyesofsound / Black Willow to Century Media. How did that happen?

Paul - Eyesofsound did a great job for us and were stoked for us when we signed to CM (I've been friends with Ryan for years). We received quite a few offers, but Century Media seemed like the right place for us to go. Black Willow is the management company that we're signed to, so we're still working with them.

How do you think that this change will affect the band's future?

Paul - The theory is that we will now have enough muscle behind us to get to the next level, somewhere that just wasn't possible to get to without signing to a big label. It should be the catalyst for some exciting times for us.

In the past couple of years, the sludge/post-metal scene became a lot bigger, with bands like Isis and Neurosis getting more and more recognition and drawing attention to the genre as a whole. What do you think of this?

Paul - We hold both of those bands in very high esteem and the good they've done for the scene and heavy music in general is fantastic. At the end of the day they're both very talented bands and deserved the recognition; the attention to the genre was just a byproduct of their skill and hard work.

Your debut "A Fragile Hope" was often compared by reviewers to those bands. Do you think that it is fair to be compared to those (or any other ) bands?

Paul - It always funny for us reading or hearing people's attempts to try and pigeonhole us, as we're a crossover band and it's basically impossible to put us in one genre. Anytime that we're compared to a good band is taken as a huge compliment.

You will be headlining the RedBull stage at this year's edition of Download festival. How do you feel about it?

Paul - It's a massive honor to be asked to headline a stage at Download, as the festival in it's various guises is steeped in history and it's an achievement just to play the thing -- being asked to headline a stage is just nuts.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Paul - The new album "Blessed & Cursed" comes out on July 12th in the UK and will be released outside the UK at later dates. We'll be touring the album in the UK and mainland Europe and anywhere that we can get to to help promote it, which should include the USA, Russia, Japan, Australia and more.

You guys recently released a song from your upcoming album called "Callous Heart". How were the fans reactions to it?

Paul - The reaction to it has been really good -about 95% of people seem to be really happy with it.

What do you guys do, besides the band?

Paul - Work- between tours and around band commitments- plus try to live as normal lives as possible. We also try to be nice people and try to contribute to society, which tends to bring us back full-circle to the music.

Can you share with us some of the best and worst memories from touring?

Paul - Having the brakes on a hire van fail at 70mph on the motorway wasn't fun. Playing car park football with tour vans as goals is always fun. Seeing loads of cool places and meeting interesting people is amazing. BBQs are always good. Sleeping in some rubbish places isn't nice, but does make for good stories when it's over.

When can we expect to see you guys in Portugal?

Paul - If all goes to plan, we should be over to push "Blessed & Cursed".

What inspires you, when writing music?

Paul - Lots of bands old and new, and a desire to write heavy music that is exciting, interesting and innovative. Some good melody, bad-ass riff or killer hook is always cool if you can pull one out.


Gifts from Enola : atypical

They are about to release the follow up to the awesome "From Fathoms" - what better time for the Bearded Russian to ask them about the new album,Europe and the school bus that runs on vegetable oil ? Bassist/keyboardist Nate talked about the past,present and future of Gifts from Enola .

Your last album "From Fathoms" , released last year, was very well received by the press. Does that, and the reactions from the fans,pressure you guys in any way when touring or writing new songs?

Nate - Not really. I mean, we're incredibly grateful for the positive response, and its really encouraging, but we're pretty good about not letting it influence what we do musically. We just take it as encouragement to keep doing what we do. I'm sure that some people who liked From Fathoms and the earlier stuff won't like the new album, but thats natural. It happens to everyone, we aren't fighting it or taking it personally.

I read that you are already planning the release of another album. How is the process going so far?

Nate - We're actually completely done with the new record. We tracked the drums and bass at a pretty awesome studio in Atlanta back in January and did the guitars, keys, vocals, etc, back in VA over the next couple months. It was the quickest we'd ever recorded anything, but we're all really excited about how it turned out.

When are you planning to release it?

Nate - It's going to be released July 13th through The Mylene Sheath.

It says on your myspace page that the new record is being mixed by Moving Mountains' Greg Dunn. How is it to work with a producer/musician used to different genres?

Nate - Working with Greg was great. He definitely does things differently than we do, production-wise, but that's why we decided to work with him. This was the first time that I've not mixed everything myself, and it was really awesome to have a completely different perspective on things. I definitely wouldn't have been able to make this album sound the way that it does. We didn't want it to sound like anything we've done before, and Greg helped make that happen.

What are the main differences between the new material and "From Fathoms"?

Nate - The production is a big difference, its much more polished and clean sounding. This is the first time we've recorded most everything in a real studio. Besides that, I think the music is more high energy and concise- this album's a good 20 minutes shorter than From Fathoms. We wrote these songs in a live environment for the first time, instead of in the studio, so I think its much more true to how we actually sound. Its also the first album that our new drummer, Jud, has played on, and he brings a lot of his own style to the table. There are a lot of firsts for us on this one. It definitely feels like the first part of a new chapter for us, and I think it sounds like one too.

One reviewer said of FF : "

"Not the typical 'pretty' post-rock. It has distortion and it rules really hard."
What do you think of the current state of the post-rock scene?

Nate - Honestly, its not something that we pay a lot of attention to. We follow our friends bands, but besides that we really don't listen to 'post-rock.' There was a time when it was new and exciting to us, but that was a long time ago now. We're glad to have been a part of the 'scene' as its grown in the last couple years, and I think we lucked into it at a good time, but its not something we feel any loyalty to. There's not a lot of 'post-rock' influence on our upcoming album and there's probably only going to be less and less as we go along. We're just bored with it.

Your label, The Mylene Sheath, is home to some "big" post-rock/indie bands. How is it to be on the same label as Caspian and Junius? Do you think that the presence of well known bands can be helpful to the smaller ones?

Nate - We've looked up to those bands for a long time, so its great to have them as labelmates. We're really excited for how well they're doing and I think it definitely helps to be associated with them through The Mylene Sheath, every new step forward for any one of us helps everyone else grow as well.

Your sound, as I pointed out, is heavier than most post-rock bands. What are your influences?

Nate - This is always such a hard question to answer fully. I guess most of what we grew up on would be called 'post-hardcore,' bands like Deftones, Thrice, Glassjaw, At the Drive-in, and mewithoutYou. We also all listen to a lot of different things, though, so its hard to pin down our collective influences of late. I know Andrew loves Pinback and their various solo things, Owen, and bossanova, CJ's been listening to the first Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters records a lot, and I've been super into David Bazan/Pedro the Lion and Frodus lately. I remember one point where Jud was listening to nothing but James Brown. We all also get pretty into Botch and Converge, but also Michael Jackson and Wu-Tang. We're just music nerds with ADD, so we're all over the place.

You are planning to tour Europe later this year. Is it your first time in Europe?What are you expectations from that tour?

Nate - Yep, this will be our first time. We're not entirely sure what to expect, but I think it'll be good. We're really excited to play new places and see new things, and we hope that we can come back relatively soon and get into a cycle of touring there like do in the U.S now that we're all out of school and have time to.

- Do you plan on playing in Portugal anytime soon?

I hope so! We don't have any specific plans to right now, because this first European tour won't take us that far south, but hopefully when we come back we can book a more extensive tour that includes Portugal and Spain.

I read that you toured in a "school bus converted to run on waste vegetable oil". How was it? Can you tell us how that worked?

Nate - We still have it and are still touring in it. Last summer was the first time we took it out on the road and we had a lot of problems, but through them we learned everything about it. It works great now and I'm really excited to take it out again. We learned just about everything we know about veggie systems from Constants, another great Mylene Sheath band who has a converted bus as well, so we can't take credit for any of these ideas. Basically, we pump used cooking oil out of grease traps and pump it through filters to clean it before heating it up and sending it to the engine. There's a lot of information about it on the internet, and its really interesting. Its a great way to save money on tour and do something positive for the environment.


Hadoken : interview

Until now, we talked with established bands within the post-rock genre.Hadoken breaks that trend : they just released their second album "Luminary" and are still looking for their place.

What do you think of the current state of the instrumental/post-rock scene?

Eric : Well there's definitely a lack of a scene. Instrumental/post-rock music is very niche but with niches comes loyal fans who are truly about the creation of music rather than the factors that surround it. That's the best part, and is what makes Hadoken keep playing. I think it's hard for people to either have the patience or affinity towards instrumental or post-rock music because without a singer many people think that music isn't anything without one. So crossing that barrier and showing people that the music itself can have its own voice is really important. Some people will open up and some people will just ignore or block it out. Either way as long as somebody walks away with a new outlook on life and music, we as a band are happy and feel accomplished. I used to remember going to the town VFW to see pop punk shows back when I was in high school and those were some of the best times of my life. The music felt like it had such a strong community and people supported it. Ever since then, music scenes have seemed to be less frequent and rampant. Maybe I'm growing up, but it's hard for instrumental and post-rock to have a definite scene because it's almost entirely more diverse, making it more broader and vague than say a hardcore scene or indie rock scene.

Do you think that the Internet created virtual communities that "destroyed" the real ones,or do you believe that online forums are helping more than harming?

Eric : I think most online forums and communities are fantastic tools and I wouldn't know half the music I know now without the help of online forums and music websites throughout the internet. In a sense, these communities bring people together from places far away from their own home in topics and interests they share in common, so in that sense it is extremely useful and fun. I have actually met up with a few people on a couple of small forums I frequent to go to a show or two, so that's really cool. I feel like if anything is stopping a scene from maintaining is the idea that people will be people, which is unpredictable. We live in a society where there is so much to do sometimes that it is overwhelming and people like to stay in an do nothing a lot of the time.

What are the main ideas behind Hadoken's "Luminary"?

Eric :The album itself was mainly our true first effort as a band because before the current lineup of the band, there were other members and songs already written. Our previous album "The Ancient Machine" had a couple songs that were written by Will Theis, one of the original members and the rest were created after. We were new as a band with the current lineup so our styles and songwriting wasn't the most concrete. Luminary we feel is though and is a great example of who we are as a band now and what we were before. Every member in the band brings something new to the table and we kind of bring ideas from there in forming unique songs. If you want to know some more, Will Theis (one of the guitarists) did a short film project at school about the band that is on youtube.

You can watch it here (it's in three parts):

What are the band's plans for the near future?

Eric : Well we have a nice little East coast tour set up in July so that should be awesome. Other than that we have just started writing new material and we can't wait to release another album. It's all so early to say anything but we feel as though we keep getting more creative with our song writing. For us, as long as we're playing shows and making music we're happy.

What inspires you to write a song?

Eric : Well it's whatever we're feeling at one particular moment or time. Like I said earlier, usually one of us will come in with a theme or idea in which we all then try to build upon. From there as the song is being constructed, we also think about a central theme. But essentially the songs we write are somewhat random and a culmination of what we are thinking of the time.



Com 2010 quase na metade, já consigo antecipar 2/3 do meu top3 dos melhores álbuns de 2010...

Ef - Mourning Golden Morning

Um tratado na arte de fazer post-rock. Não reinventa a roda, nem ninguém o exigia. Épico, dramático e inspirado.E até certo ponto, inesperado. Não porque a qualidade da banda e dos seus 2 lançamentos anteriores estivesse em questão, mas porque as mudanças de membros não costumam perdoar ( ler entrevista à banda aqui no Bearded Russian ).

Ólafur Arnalds - ... and they have escaped the weight of darkness

O que eu penso da música deste senhor já foi aqui dito - não o vou repetir. Um passo firme na direcção do minimalismo, "... and they have escaped the weight of darkness" mostra o lado mais deprimente e melancólico da música de Arnalds, como se a paisagem fria e bela da sua terra natal ( Islândia ) se transformasse em som.


Kuki Ningyo (Air Doll)

"I found myself with a heart I was not supposed to have."

Hideo ,(Itsuji Itao) um homem solitário de meia idade, que nos é aduzido subtilmente aos primeiros minutos, serve mesas num pequeno restaurante e mora nos súburbios de Tóquio com Nozomi (Bae Doo-na ,"The Host", ''Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance''). Um homem simples que vive numa rotina um tanto ou quanto banal. Cumprimenta-a quando chega a casa, conta-lhe como foi o seu dia no trabalho à mesa de jantar, e à noite tem relações sexuais com ela, sussurrando-lhe como é bonita. Porém, o que escapa à banalidade é o facto de Nazomi ser na realidade uma boneca insuflável.

Numa manhã como tantas outras, Hideo despede-se da sua companheira de horas mais sós, e esta, deixada tão carinhosamente na cama tapada, metamorfoseia-se, magicamente com um toque simplista e nada explícito, numa mulher.‘’Encontrei um coração’’, como mais tarde o virá a dizer.

Nuzomi descobre um mundo lá fora. Vestida com o seu fato de mulher-a-dias pornô/anime, vagueia pelas ruas imitanto as falas das pessoas e comportamentos.

À medida que vai perdendo o seu andar mecânico e as suas linhas de junta de cola, arranja um trabalho numa pequena loja de vídeo onde se apaixona pelo seu colega Junichi (Arata, "Distance," "After Life’’). Mantém assim uma vida dupla. Uma vida subserviente aos favores sexuais de Hideo e à mudez, e uma vida quase humana ao lado de Junichi.

Nozomi tenta encontrar significado para a sua existência, chegando até a visitar o seu ‘’criador’’ Sonoda (Joe Odagiri, um Geppetto de ‘’Pinóquias’’ para adultos), pondo em causa os seus ‘’deveres’’ para com Haido. Mas logo começa a perceber que as suas vidas paralelas são inconciliáveis.

Todo o elenco protagoniza um papel fenomenal que nos agarra do príncipio ao fim. Todos os pequenos ''character build ups'' têm, a seu tempo, uma conclusão.

E apesar de Bae passar longos minutos no seu curtíssimo ‘’birthday suit’’, a actriz consegue fazer com que o público não a tome de todo como mero objecto sexual, mas sim como uma personagem delicada e inocente. Consegue até que as mulheres mais invejosas se esqueçam das suas belas pernas durante 125 minutos, e criem empatia pela sua frágil personagem.

Kore-eda faz com que vejamos a sua vida de blow up doll pelos seus olhos não insufláveis.

Festival de Cannes -- Un Certain Regard
Elenco: Bae Doo-na, Arata, Itsuji Itao, Joe Odagiri
Realização-guião- produtor-editor:Hirokazu Kore-eda
Baseado no romance gráfico (Manga) de Yoshiie Gouda

Produção: Toshiro Uratani

Director de fotografia: Mark Lee Ping-Bing

Música: World's end girlfriend

Distribuição: Fortissimo Films
Idioma Original: Japonês
Duração:125 minutos


Ólafur Arnalds

Gelo que faz levantar o pêlo dos braços

Uma melodia de piano,lenta,construída à volta de meia dúzia de notas,luta para se desembaraçar de uma camada de violinos e chegar à tona. Assim poderiam ser descritas muitas das composições deste músico. Com uma sensibilidade e maturidade musical enormes para alguém com apenas 23, Ólafur Arnalds será, muito provavelmente, a próxima grande exportação do panorama musical Islandês. A mistura de elementos electrónicos com música clássica e crescendos dignos do post-rock não é nova, mas poucos conseguem fazê-la de forma tão eficiente.