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LISTEN: New Wrekmeister Harmonies
The Quietus , September 13th, 2016 10:11

Thrill Jockey signees share another track from their new album and answer a few quick questions; listen below

Wrekmeister Harmonies will release their new album this Friday via their usual label home of Thrill Jockey and its billed as their "most sonically varied album to date". Above, giving you a taster of what to expect from the new album, is '(Light Falls I - The Mantra)' for your listening delight.

The album itself, entitled Light Falls, features guest contributions from members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor as well as Ryley Walker and Cooper Crain. The album's tittle originates from the text of If This Is A Man, Primo Levi’s account on the year the author spent as an inmate at Auschwitz.

The group's JR Robinson says: "I wanted to sonically convey the idea of slow, creeping change. When I came up with the title I was thinking of how when daylight turns to night time it’s a very gradual process. You are lulled into watching this slow, peaceful sunset but then all of a sudden you look up and it’s dark.”

The group have also announced a new European tour, the dates for which you can check out below alongside a quick catch-up with JR Robinson on their current activities.

Wrekmeister Harmonies as a collective has existed since 2006 and Light Falls is your fourth full-length album in 4 years. That's pretty impressive. Do you still approach writing/recording in a similar way? Do you write songs collectively or is it more you writing a score and then everybody following it?

JR Robinson: The writing process has definitely changed which is a positive development. The way Light Falls was put together was by me bringing in the material already written and not talking a lot about the meaning behind it. I was interested to see how the other musicians would react solely based on the music itself and didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time trying to gauge their feelings about the subject.

Is it all recently written material?

JR: Yes, all within the last year. I’ve been messing around with the structure for 'Where Have You Been My Lovely Son' for a little bit. 'The Gathering' came about from me listening to Bell Witch’s Four Phantoms record a whole lot at the time.

Do you enjoy being in the studio? How long did it take to record the album? Can you stay extremely focused and get a whole album done in, say, one month or does it take more time?

JR: I do like being in the studio. We recorded side A ('Mantra', 'The Light Burns Us All', 'Light Sick') in an ideal environment at this beautiful studio out in the woods in Quebec. It was totally isolated and we did nothing but concentrate on recording. The whole process happened really quickly but at a natural pace. Nothing felt hurried. We took a break for a few months then reconvened in Montreal for a week and recorded side B. Timothy Herzog and I sent mixes back and forth over the next month after that. I would say the whole process took about three months.

After recording Night Of Your Ascension with practically an entire ensemble, you stepped back to a more compact lineup for Light Falls. Did it feel like the right thing to do? To focus more closely on individual elements, ideas, players?

JR: The sessions for Night Of Your Ascension were intense. I remember watching Hearts of Darkness (the film about making Apocalypse Now) and really identifying with it while working on that record. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get 30 people to do anything but I can say from personal experience it’s not the easiest thing to do. Egos, schedules, complex lifestyles…it was too much. I’m really happy with that record but didn’t see the point in trying to out-do myself. The natural thing seemed to pull back and see what would happen with a smaller group.

Your previous albums mostly features few and long pieces. On the new album, the songs are relatively short and they are all capable of standing for themselves, i.e. it does not sound like one long composition cut into seven chunks. What prompted you to write these shorter pieces?

JR: I think it’s just about evolving. Nobody wants to get stuck in a rut and keep repeating themselves. I really didn’t see the point in writing in the same way over and over. For me, the point of being an artist is to challenge yourself constantly, try and work in ways that feel foreign and strange at first. it can be daunting but the results are undeniably satisfying. I think about lots of artists I respect, producers like Randall Dunn and Eno, musicians like Bowie and Miles Davis, authors like Marlon James, filmmakers like Terrance Malik and Bela Tarr, painters like Cy Twombly… all of them refused to remain static and were constantly changing or adapting.

Light Falls seems considerably more personal to me, sonically more melodies (sometimes hidden in the mix) – less drones, and lyrically, obviously you singing about your son. Was this a conscious move in to a more introverted direction or did it come naturally?

JR: Like I mentioned, I wanted to evolve as an artist and one of the things that came about was examining things on a more personal level. It wasn’t a very comfortable experience writing about my son but it was necessary. It was very real to me and I couldn’t hide it but I wasn’t used to being so personal. I had been experimenting with that arrangement and it always elicited a certain raw response every time I played it. It hasn’t gotten any easier but there is a certain amount of cathartic release to playing it.

Wrekmeister Harmonies European Tour Dates

November

22nd - Wurlitzer Ballroom, Madrid, Spain
23rd - ZDB, Lisbon, Portugal
24th - Passos Emanuel, Porto, Portugal
25th - Kafe Antxoki, Bermeo, Spain
26th - Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, France
27th - Pull Route Magique, Brest, France
30th - Urban Spree, Berlin, Germany

December

1st - Klub Ucho, Gdynia, Poland
2nd - LAS, Poznan, Poland
4th - A38, Budapest, Hungary
5th - Elektropionir, Belgrade, Serbia
6th - Channel Zero, Lubiana, Slovenia
8th - MS Stubnitz, Hamburg, Germany
9th - Magasin 4, Brussels, Belgium
10th - State-X New Forms, The Hague, The Netherlands
11th - Incubate, Tilburg, The Netherlands

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