Eyre Transmissions VII: Interview With Dungeon Synth Abecedarian, Rectory

As Dungeon Synth continues to grow in popularity, the amount of artist surging onto the scene is astonishing. It seems like every few days A new artist appears, or three to five new recordings get released, causing me to maintain extra “Bandcamp Funds” in order to support this community as much as I can. One of the new artist that I’ve really been impressed with is Rectory and with their brand of Haunted Dungeon Synth, it opens up another sub-genre of ambient-based synth music for the ages. Debut recording, ‘Ghost Stories’, contains four ethereal tracks of breathtaking Dungeon Synth that borderlines medieval tones and eerie dark ambient passages that transcends multiple genres. With songs such as “Waking At Midnight” and “This Room Always Feels So Sad”, there is a sense of gloomy malevolence at play that is hauntingly beautiful, yet seemingly damaging to the soul. I recently had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Rectory to find out how they got started, the story behind “Haunted Dungeon Synth”, and anything in between.

1. First of all, thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. It seems like Rectory quickly infiltrated the Dungeon Synth scene within the last few months. What were some of your main influences for getting started?

That’s very kind of you to say so; I still feel like no bugger has heard of us. Not that I resent that, of course! It’s a scene that’s absolutely exploding at the moment and we’re just happy to be a part of it.

When I first started writing, I only really knew the big names in Dungeonsynth: Burzum, Mortiis, Jim Kirkwood… I explored more as I went and found some really great stuff. I don’t know how much it inspired me directly, though. Musically, I’ve taken the biggest inspiration from film composers, especially Joseph Bishara, Danny Elfman, Fabio Frizzi and Charlie Clouser. 

2. According to your Bandcamp page, you label your music as “Haunted Dungeon Synth”. What sets your music apart from the typical Dungeon Synth music that we hear quite often these days?

I love the medieval things and the sword and sorcery things that some people do, but it isn’t right for me. I’ve been fascinated with ghosts and hauntings since I was about eight or nine years old. I find the subject completely fascinating. If you’re a believer, it’s great that there’s a whole world to explore that we don’t understand yet. If you’re a total sceptic, isn’t it fascinating that your brain can do these things and make you think you’ve experienced something paranormal?

So, the idea for Rectory began to crystallise, and it became a little project for me to work on while England was on lockdown over COVID-19. It’s already gone further than I expected it to. 

If you mean musically, I guess it’s just the general sound. Our music is the antithesis of Comfy Synth. Hell, call us “Discomfort Synth” if you want. The moment we press ‘record’ we are thinking about how we can unnerve the listener.

3. Do you think that “Comfy Synth” has also influenced Rectory’s sound, but in a way that‘s condescending to that sub-genre?

Not at all. There are a few Comfy Synth artists whose worn I enjoy – Tiny Mouse, for example, is wonderful – but it’s not something we’re interested in writing. There’s certainly no backlash or condescension on our part. I’m happy they’re doing their thing, and I’m happy people love it.
The genre is already incredibly small and anti-commercial. I don’t think that infighting or sneering at what other artists are doing is productive for anyone.

4. For the releases that you currently have out, there seems to be a ghostly theme to the music and album covers. What inspires you to write around this subject matter?

Lifelong obsession, really. I love reading true ghost stories, and I’ve been to seances and ghost hunts. I just love all aspects of it. I’ve seen and experienced enough stuff to make me believe that some of it is real. The name “Rectory” is taken from Borley Rectory, which was allegedly the most haunted house in Britain until it was destroyed. 

I also took a lot of inspiration from classic ghost stories by guys like M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, and William Hope Hodgson. There is an atmosphere to those tales that I really wanted to capture. Not that I don’t love modern stuff, too! Adam Nevill is an absolute master. Garth Marenghi is a huge influence on us, too.

5. Do you provide your own artwork for the albums as well?

The cover for “Ghost Stories” is an interior photo of Borley Rectory. The cover of “There Was a Man Dwelt by a Churchyard” is one I took, myself, of my Ouija board.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-stories

6. How important is the ambient/atmospheric aspect to your craft?

100%. Rectory is nothing without the ambience and atmosphere. That’s often where the song-writing starts.

7. Do you think you might venture out into the Dark Ambient arena some day?

Possibly. A few people have said that they consider Rectory to be more Dark Ambient than Dungeon Synth, already. It’s totally possible we could gradually evolve that way. Lustmord is a huge influence on what we do. His soundscapes are incredible.
Of course, if anyone has a horror film that needs scoring, that’s something we’d love to do.

8. Before Rectory, were you involved with any other musical endeavors? If so, how was the transition to playing/recording Dungeon Synth?

Yeah, I’m a punk musician. Self taught. I’ve been playing and writing stuff since I was about fourteen, with varying degrees of obscurity.

I have very little musical theory under my belt, so that, and learning to play the keyboard from scratch were the biggest challenges. It’s been something totally outside of my experience and comfort zone, but that’s a large part of what has made it so rewarding.

9. Cassette releases seem to be a big thing in the Dungeon Synth community. Do you plan on any physical releases of your recordings?

Yes, Sol Moribundo has released “Ghost Stories” on cassette.

I’m not a fan of the format at all, but enough people were interested that I set out to make it happen. Sol Moribundo are a small, start-up label, but they’ve been great to work with.

10. Have you thought about collaborating with other artists?

Some conversations have been had, but nothing is in the pipeline at present. 

11. Tell me about your recording/playing setup. Do you use a mix of analog and digital recording equipment?

I use a Ouija board, planchette and automatic writing.

https://rectory.bandcamp.com/track/there-was-a-man-dwelt-by-a-churchyard

12. Do you have any desire to play live or do you plan to stick to being a recording artist only?

No, I’m an old man, now. My live performance days are well and truly behind me. To be honest, I’m not sure DS ever translates well into a live environment. If Summoning can’t make it work live, what chance do the rest of us have?

Plus I think so much of “the Rectory experience” – if I may be permitted to talk like an abject fucking nonce for a moment – takes place inside the listener’s head, and I worry any visuals would distract from that.  

13. These days, how much do you rely on social media to spread the word (and music) of Rectory?

It’s the only way of doing it. The Dungeon Synth groups on Facebook are incredibly open minded and supportive, and there’s a few really good blogs out there. One of them wants to interview me, but I forget their name.

14. I really appreciate your time for this interview and thanks for the music that you provide to this wonderful community. Do you have any final words for your fans that may be reading this interview?

Sure. The Rectory album is in production, and will be out as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s called “The Rattle of Dry Earth”. After that, I’ll be working on a World War II themed DS project as a quick break, which should be a lot of fun.

Links:

BC: https://rectory.bandcamp.com

FB: https://www.facebook.com/RectoryOfficial/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RectoryOfficial

Eyre Transmissions VI: Interview With Dark Ambient Producer And Cryo Chamber Recording Artist, Beyond The Ghost

Beyond The Ghost has been on a roll since joining the Cryo Chamber Label. In just under two years we’ve seen the release of a pair of exceptional albums – 2019’s ‘You Disappeared’ and 2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’. With each release, Beyond The Ghost has consistently delivered a unique blend of cinematic dark ambience combined with brilliant guitar and piano effects to produce soundtrack-like quality material that is not only memorable, but sustains a richness of depth and character as well. I recently had the pleasure to interview the maestro behind Beyond The Ghost – Pierre Laplace – to find out how he got his start in the Dark Ambient genre, his other involvements, and what the future holds for Beyond The Ghost. Please enjoy the interview with this amazing artist and definitely check out his unbelievable albums, if you’ve not done so already.

1. First, thank you so much for this interview opportunity. Secondly, congratulations on your two successful Cryo Chamber releases, 2019’s ‘You Disappeared’, and 2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’. How did the Beyond The Ghost Project begin?

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my dark ambient project, I really appreciate it. I think the idea of Beyond the Ghost started about 2 years ago. In 2018, I released an album called The Ninth Wave with my other musical project, The Sandman’s Orchestra. It was a cover of the whole B-side to Kate Bush’s classic Hounds of Love album. It was a huge undertaking, I spent an insane amount of time working on textures, atmospheres and sound design for this album. Somehow, after that experience, and after years of songwriting, I wanted to explore a more atmospheric, darker side to my music. I also wanted to start composing more instrumental pieces. I got more and more into dark ambient and started writing tracks in that genre. I ended up with a whole album, You Disappeared. 

2. What kind of project was The Sandman’s Orchestra? Besides this project were you previously involved with projects of other genres?

The Sandman’s Orchestra was an atmospheric folk duo I started with a young singer named Léonie Gabriel. That was my first serious attempt at producing music all by myself in my home-studio. It was a great experience on many levels. I made progress in terms of songwriting, arranging and producing music. It was a great collaboration with Léonie, who is an amazing singer. Before that, my main musical outlet was a band called Vera Clouzot. Between 1993 and 2003 we released a few demos, 4 studio albums (2 sung in English, 2 in French), one live album, and played about 150 shows throughout France, including opening for Jeff Buckley and Smog. We started out as an acoustic three-piece band. I sang and played guitar, Nicolas Fahy played the cello and Richard Huyghe was the main guitar player. Later on, two friends joined us on drums and bass guitar and our sound evolved into a mix of atmospheric ballads and experimental rock music sung in French. Being part of a band for 10 years was an amazing experience ; that’s a big chunk of life. I also released two solo albums of acoustic folk as Kenyon ; the second one, « Catch a Star » was released in 2005 by a Parisian micro-label, Hinah.

Beyond The Ghost – Taken on the beach in Dunkirk, Northern France

3. How did you come up with the name, Beyond The Ghost?

I’ve always loved the word « ghost », the way it sounds, its implications. I brainstormed with my girlfriend to find a name that would include the word « ghost », and that’s what we came up with. I like the fact that it’s open to interpretation. One possible meaning is that there are moments in your life when for some reason (bereavement, anxiety, depression) you may feel like some kind of ghost, not quite there, floating your way through life but with the wish to go past that stage, to go beyond the ghost of yourself and try to find your true nature again.

4. You seem to explore an extremely broad range of cinematic sounds on your recordings. Who are some of your influences for this style of Dark Ambient music?

True, I like to explore different sounds and atmospheres and I guess my music is quite cinematic. I’ve been influenced by other dark ambient artists but also by stuff that’s maybe less obvious : Talk Talk circa Spirit of Eden/Laughing Stock, Pink Floyd, David Bowie’s Low album, Brian Eno, David Sylvian, Portishead.

5. Cryo Chamber is the premiere label for Cinematic Dark Ambient music. How did your relationship with the label come about?

I’ve been familiar with the label for a couple of years. One of my friends from the early Soundcloud days, Tom Moore of Dead Melodies, was already on the label. The level of quality is pretty high on Cryo Chamber so you can’t just submit demos or a half-baked album. After months of working on my first album, I got to a point where I thought what I had was interesting and at least I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself if I submitted the album to the label. Cryo Chamber was the obvious choice because it’s the best dark ambient label out there. So I contacted Simon (Cryo Chamber’s label manager), sent him my album, which he liked right away, and a couple of days later we were already talking about artwork, stuff like that. Since then, I’ve developed a great working relationship and friendship with Simon. He’s been very supportive of my music and is easy to work with. I had bad experiences with record labels in the past, so today I feel very grateful to be on a label run by an artist, by someone with a vision. 

6. Have you participated in any collaboration projects?

For the past year or so I’ve been collaborating with another artist, we’ll have a whole album finished by the end of the summer. I can’t tell you more at this point. Sorry, my lips are sealed ! This year I’ll also partake in the yearly Lovecraft project, I’m very excited about that. I love the collaborative aspect of Cryo Chamber, you feel like you’re part of a family. We are very supportive of each other, there are no ego conflicts or whatever.

7. The whole world is currently living in some dark times, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic going on. Are you sheltering in place because of this? If so, (or even if not), has this event inspired you to write any new music?

At first I was quite worried and stressed with the pandemic. I wasn’t afraid for myself but for my loved ones, especially my dad, who is considered at risk. It was heartbreaking to see the mortality of it all, often in dreadful circumstances. To die alone must be horrid, for the person and their family. As for the lockdown, personally, I had no problem with it. It was a necessary thing to do in order to save lives, and to be honest I often got annoyed with people complaining about how hard it was to stay confined for 2 months. I mean, if it’s about saving people’s lives, stop whining and do something creative with your time. Of course, I missed seeing my family and my friends, but that was a small price to pay for the greater good. I don’t think I was directly inspired by COVID, but I had a lot more free time than usual, so I worked on a lot of music, at random times of the day and night. I still do, actually. These past few months have been a very creative period for me. Music is a great outlet in stressful times.

Beyond The Ghost – Taken from his home studio while working on ‘Eternal Drift’

8. Have you considered doing any live shows after the COVID-19 Pandemic is all clear? Have you considered doing any live streaming performances?

I don’t think I’ll play live shows or do live streaming performances. Giving a good live performance would require a lot of work and would probably involve other musicians because I don’t see myself playing piano or guitar over a backing track. I’d rather devote my time and energy to creating new music in my home-studio. 

9. I guess the good thing about having a home-studio, is that you can play and record anytime you feel inspired. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea and headed to your home-studio to record?

Yes, very often. I have weird sleeping patterns and I like working on music at night. I do like the freedom of having a home-studio, of being able to record whenever I feel inspired, which can definitely happen in the middle of the night.

Physical release of ‘Eternal Drift’

10. Getting back to the music on your albums, there is a great mixture of sublime textures and controlled chaos. Do you have a strategy for writing your songs or is there a lot of improvisation?

I don’t have a strategy or any set rules. Sometimes I will start by creating a drone and then build a track from that foundation. Sometimes I create a sound or a layer that will inspire other sounds and layers and then I add the melodic part. A track can also start with a piano part, or a guitar sound, or anything really. I like the fact that there are no rules. So it’s mostly about inspiration and improvisation. Then, when I have a basic foundation for a track, things fall into place through trial and error. 

11. One of my favorite Beyond The Ghost tracks is “Frozen In Time”. For some reason, this song reminds me of the soundtrack of the movie, Full Metal Jacket. Is therea particular story behind that track?

With that track I wanted to create something nostalgic and atmospheric with all the muffled radio voices, I wanted something that moved at a slow pace. When I wrote the track I had this image of being stuck in a lonely place, of being still, of feeling numb from the pain of losing someone (which was the central topic of the whole album). I saw Full Metal Jacket many years ago and I don’t remember the soundtrack, but I loved the movie at the time. It’s a good reference so I guess I’ll have to check out the OST now !

2019’s ‘You Disappeared’

12. I believe the song from that OST that I am thinking of is called “Sniper”. Speaking of OST’s, do you have any favorite Dark Ambient-themed OST’s that you listen to often ?

Lately I’ve really enjoyed Hildur Guðnadóttir’s works, mainly her soundtrack to the Chernobyl mini-series, as well as her score for Joker. I’m a big fan of Geoff Barrow, the Portishead/Beak guy, and I like the soundtrack he composed with Ben Salisbury for Annihilation. One last example is Under the Skin’s soundtrack by Mica Levi – I found both the movie and soundtrack quite eerie and unsettling but beautiful at the same time. When I watch TV shows I pay a lot ofattention to music cues and I can definitely hear dark ambient influences in some of the shows I’ve enjoyed, like The Outsider, Bloodline or The Killing, for example.

13. “Becoming One With Darkness” from the ‘Eternal Drift’ album contains some ethereal guitar work on it and it’s probably my favorite track from the new album. Do you think you’ll use more guitar (and piano) parts in future recordings?

Thanks for pointing out that track. This and « The Slow Agony of Solitude » are two personal favorites from the new album. To me, Eternal Drift is definitely a guitar album. It may not be that obvious because I often used the electric guitar in unconventional ways, warping the sound with various techniques and fx to try and create interesting textures. Whatever direction my future projects will take, I know there will always be room for some guitar and piano as well as other organic instruments. Maybe it’s what defines my music and my sound : a mix of organic and synthetic, of warm and cold.

2020’s ‘Eternal Drift’

14. Once again, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions for The Dungeon In Deep Space! Do you have any final thought for your fans that may be reading this?

It’s been my pleasure answering your questions ! I’d like to seize the opportunity to thank all the people who listened to my music, bought my albums, wrote nice messages and comments on social media or wrote me directly. I’ve had some very touching messages from various people and it means the world to me. I think people have sensed that these albums are very personal and real, that there’s a lot of emotions in there. You Disappeared was about losing someone, Eternal Drift is about losing yourself. Both albums were therapeutic for me. If some people have found comfort listening to my music, have felt touched and moved by it, then it was all worth it.

Links:

Eternal Drift: https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-drift

You Disappeared: https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/you-disappeared

FB: https://www.facebook.com/beyondtheghost/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beyondtheghostmusic/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5aoLhB1ALvmo38RwCBNH5W?si=ilOHCWphQROUZpaRhkFlFg

Eyre Transmissions V: Interview With Dungeon Synth Mainstay, Erythrite Throne

If you’re a fan of Dungeon Synth, then you are well aware of the many talented artists that contribute a steady amount of music for our listening pleasure. One artist that I consider a linchpin of the community is none other than Erythrite Throne. Releasing some of the most consistent blackened Dungeon Synth there is, Erythrite Throne continues to challenge the listener in diving into a medieval world of dark imagery, vampires, and lust for malevolence. With a distinctive sound and style that is unmatched by any other artist, Erythrite Throne is constantly progressing and improving with each release. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Erythrite Throne main man, Davey Sasahara, to talk about his Dungeon Synth endeavors, Serpents Sword Records and anything in between.

1. First of all, thanks for taking the time to respond to this interview. I have to ask, where do you find the time to write the massive amounts of music that you do? 

It’s pretty much the only thing I do with my free time haha. It’s something that I enjoy doing a lot so I write music as often as I can, I also have pretty bad ADHD, so this is something that helps me sit down and work on my concentration.

2. How many projects have you released music under?

Right now, I have 16 active projects, but I have a lot of projects I’ve stopped working on completely and there’s not much of a trace of them on the web. All together I’ve released music under maybe 30 or projects of varying musical styles.

3. When you are writing new music, do you go into it with a specific project in mind or do you improvise and let the music guide your path? 

I usually improvise everything and just feel it but there a few times that I sit down with the intention of making music for a specific project.

4. Take us back to before you started releasing Dungeon Synth. We’re you involved with music from other genres? 

I was! I was in a hardcore band as well as doing a few projects by myself. I was making some gothic electronic stuff, some vapourware, some trap. I like to experiment with music a lot. 

5. What influenced you to start writing Dungeon Synth? 

I’ve actually been making this type of music since around 2014, I just had no idea it was called Dungeon Synth, so I was just calling it gothic music haha. Actually, the first Voslaarum album Forgotten Vale is a compilation of stuff I made around 2014-2016, some of it is actually still on YouTube under a different name. 

6. I know this year you were slated to play live at the Northeast Dungeon Siege and due to the COVID-19 outbreak it was modified as an online festival (via Twitch). How was it preparing to play live online? 

It was good, it was my first time streaming so it took me a bit to figure it out, but I had a lot of help from my friends in the community and I think it turned out great. All those people put a lot into making NEDS happen and I appreciate them so much, it was a great time and I was honoured to play! 

7. I highly anticipated seeing your set and thoroughly enjoyed it. Did that inspire you to want to play more live gigs in the future? 

100%! I would like to play many more live shows in the future. 

8. It seems like Erythrite Throne is the “mothership” of all your projects. Is that the case? 

It absolutely is. I played around with a lot of other projects and musical styles before I landed here, it has a very special place in my heart.

9. Some of your earlier Erythrite Throne works contains a good bit of Black Metal (Instrumentation & vocals) whereas the more current material is mostly synth based. Was there a plan to make Erythrite Throne a more metal based project at some point? 

Erythrite Throne was always made to infuse Dungeon Synth and Black Metal, I never want to choose between the two because I love them both so much. Which direction I take an album really just depends on how I’m feeling in that moment.

10. One of my favorite projects of yours is Abholos. Although I can hear traces of Erythrite Throne in Abholos, the sound is more ethereal, and the texture is of a primitive nature. What influenced you to start this project? 

The first Abholos demo was actually supposed to be an Erythrite Throne album based on the work of Lovecraft, but it just felt different from Erythrite Throne, so I created Abholos which still has my kind of sound, but I try to make it it’s own entity.

11. Do you have more Abholos albums planned for this year? 

I absolutely do!

12. Another newer project that I absolutely love is Moss Golem. Initially “mislabeled” a Comfy Synth album, it’s actually like a synth-based black metal project. Did you create this project to defy the sub-genre stereotypes that seem to exist these days? 

I did. It was pretty much a fuck you to what you think something is or has to be called. MOSS GOLEM is a really important project to me..

13. One of your less talked about projects is Vokaron – which I think is an amazing project that leans toward the Crypt Hop genre. How did this project come about and do you plan to continue it? 

I actually made this album for my partner when he was recovering from surgery. He likes to sing so I made him this album to sing with well he was at home getting better with nothing else really to do. I do plan to drop at least one more Vokaron album!

14. Other than the projects that I’ve mentioned, what are some of the other ones that are near and dear to you, and why? 

I can’t really choose one honestly. All of them are important to me in one way or another and I try to put a lot into each one.

15. Tell us a little about Serpents Sword Records? 

I created Serpent’s Sword so I could have one spot for all my projects and tapes under one banner. I figured it was better than having 20 different Bandcamp pages.

16. Other than physical cassette releases, are there any plans to expand the merchandise (t-shirts, patches, stickers, hats, etc.) store for Serpents Swords Records? 

Absolutely. I’ve already had patches done for Erythrite Throne, but I’d love to get shirts and stickers done for that and a few of the other projects on Serpent’s Sword.

17. Have you toyed with the idea of releasing other artists material on Serpents Sword Records?

I have and I actually will be releasing some other artists music in the near future starting with a very special release for a good friend of mine! More info will come soon for that.

18. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, as well all of your contributions to the Dungeon Synth community. Do you have any final thought you’d like to share with anyone reading this? 

I appreciate you taking the time to interview me and listen to my music; it really means a lot to me! I want to thank all the amazing friends I’ve made in the Dungeon Synth community and all the people who listen to and support my music, it really means more to me than I can describe. I’m excited to continue working on music for you all!

Links:

https://serpentsswordrecords.bandcamp.com

https://erythritethrone.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.facebook.com/serpentssword/

Eyre Transmissions IV: Interview with Visionary Dark Ambient Artist, Ruptured World

My love for the dark ambient genre goes back several decades. Although admittedly I started off as just a casual listener, I soon found a love for the eerie soundscapes & deep, ritualistic drones and the emotional state they put me in. Through the years, there have been many artists that have captivated me with their musical ventures, but one that stands out amongst my favorites is Ruptured World. Seamlessly combining dark ambient, piano sounds, and scripted narrations, Ruptured World emerges as a unique entity in a genre known mainly for its minimalism. Additionally, Ruptured World was one of the artists that inspired me to begin writing this blog and ‘Archeoplanetary’ became my very first review. I recently had an opportunity to interview Alistair Rennie – the artist behind Ruptured World – to find out the methods and inspirations behind his visionary craft.

1. First of all, thanks for the opportunity to conduct this interview. In 2019, you continued with the “Planetary” series and released the extremely impressive ‘Archeoplanetary’. Not only was it one of the first reviews for my site, it was also listed in my Dark Ambient Top 10 albums of last year. What what’s the writing/recording process like for this album? Do you have any plans to continue on with this series?

The process is one that starts off with a few nebulous ideas that begin to assume a more direct focus once the music and narrative elements start to form, and then it just starts to fall together and gather a momentum almost of its own.

Once the ideas begin to crystalize and take shape, I think that’s when I start to organise the music and spoken word narrative in more direct correlation with each other.

I never start with fully formulated ideas or a written narrative for the music to be written to. I find that too much planning in advance takes some of the excitement out of it. It’s a bit like getting spoilers before watching a film. So I try and leave room to allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. In saying that, once the first version of an album is done, I’ll go back over it making significant revisions and changes from start to finish. The idea or vision of the work gets clearer and more refined that way, until you have the completed work.

2. One thing that stands out for Ruptured World is the heavy use of commentary and spoken word. What influenced you to incorporate this into your brand of dark ambient?

It really comes from my activities as a writer. I write genre fiction (science fiction, horror and fantasy) and have a novel published and some short stories out there, mainly with US-based publishers and magazines. So it was very natural for me to create narratives that I could adapt to music through spoken word. Dark Ambient tends to be cinematic in terms of its characteristics, so it seemed a very obvious and quite normal thing to do.

3. Dr. Archibald Macrae is such a dignified and compelling character. What kind of research (if any) went into honing this character and his vast knowledge of archeology?

I have a good knowledge of ancient culture in Scotland, and, especially, the North of Scotland where I grew up. So I was able to feed a lot of that into the story through the character of Macrae. All of the places and some of the artefacts referred to in the album actually exist and serve as a basis for the fictional elements to be built on. These are places that I know intimately, some of them featuring also in my family history. So the knowledge mostly comes from lived experience and absorbing and learning over time rather than research. In saying that, I have studied aspects of the Picts at university, so there’s also some formal research that’s gone into it.

4. So, when you’ve created the albums of the “Planetary” series, do you write the music or narrations first?

I’ll start with the music but the narration starts to form alongside the music quite rapidly. It seems to happen as part of the same eruption of materials, overall, driven by the same impulse, both emerging simultaneously. I think there will be some music that has been created first, perhaps something that emerges from new material I’m working on, or something that rises out of periods of experimentation, that stands out and starts to go in a particular direction. And then the words and music will occur simultaneously. At a later point, I’ll start to do the vocal recordings and work on integrating those into the music using the appropriate sound design techniques.

5. I think I follow you on just about all of the major social media platforms and you seem to do a lot of field recordings. How important is this to your music?

This actually follows on nicely from the previous question. I’m now finding that field recordings have a much greater influence on how the music starts off and takes shape. It’s become one of the crucial elements of the music and is increasingly central to much of what I aim to do. In more recent stuff I’ve produced, I’ve aimed to capture the atmospheric detail of specific locations and to use this as the core sound around which to develop the music. I’ve also started making short video productions in which this music is featured, bringing everything together in one setting of audio-visual representation.

Field Recording Mission in New Aberdour, Scotland

6. Where are some of your favorite places to record sounds?

There are certain locations around the coastline of the Northeast of Scotland where there are all sorts of rock features, including wave cut platforms, sea stacks and sea caves, where I’ve started collecting some fantastic ocean sounds from fascinating acoustic settings. It’s a common subject matter in field recording but for a good reason. We never tire of hearing water and the sounds of the sea. The specific kinds of rock formations will present unique sounds and amplifications. The sea caves are my favourite, though. As you can imagine, the way the sounds of the sea resonate within these enclosed geological spaces is fascinating. And I’ll often create additional sounds and percussive sounds using whatever stones and aquatic vegetation presents itself within the caves.

I also like to go inland towards the mountainous areas, particularly in and around the Cairngorm mountains. The glens and hillsides present all sorts of interesting sounds to capture. There’s a lot of wildlife making some great noise. There are rivers and streams constantly flowing. The plant life makes an abundance of sounds you’d never imagine until you actually start listening through field recording.

It’s also a good idea to take things with you to record in the outdoor spaces. Instruments will always sound incredible when you play them outside. And so will playing a digital synth through a portable amp or speakers.

7. You also seem to have a high regard for the visual aspect to your work. Does this also influence the mood of your music?

I’d say it was the other way round, certainly where video is concerned. It’s more the case that the music influences and often shapes the editorial choices and stylistic tenor of the video-making.

8. Speaking of visual art, you have a keen eye for photography and videography. Do you do this as a hobby, or incorporate it into your business ventures?

With video, it’s more like an extension of the music, really, with a definite aim of making it part of the whole aesthetic. It’s something I’m working on more, now, and something I’ve had some formal training in, which always helps.

That’s not the case with photography, which is more of a supplementary activity, always good for putting online. In saying that, I have a friend (one of a few mysterious accomplices of Ruptured World!) who is a very fine photographer with a great knowledge and approach in what he does. Those really great photos you can see on my Instagram page, for example, are his. He did the photo for the cover of “Frontiers of Disorder” on the Ruptured World Bandcamp page.

The not so good photos, the ones taken on a cell phone and put through a filter, those are ones that I’ve taken. I try to take photographs of some of the places I go to for field recording or video footage trips, just to share for interest and fun. Fans of Dark Ambient are almost always people who have an interest in the natural world. So anything I can capture of any atmospheric or dramatic scenes, I’ll put it online in the hope it’s of interest.

9. Getting back to your music; What is your recording setup like? Do you use mainly VST’s, analog/digital equipment, analog instruments, or a combination of them all.

It’s a combination of different things—digital synths, a lot of sampling of sounds, voices and acoustic instruments, as well as objects. A lot of the piano sounds I’ll use are recorded live on a really nice Roland digital piano I’ve got. It can bring some really good room ambience, and sometimes the noise of the keys, that I really like, giving it a sort of haunted feel. Samples and sounds derived from field recordings, as well as voice samples, are things I use more and more. I have some percussion instruments, too. I’ll have some core sounds or samples that I tend to use regularly, but with lots of room for experimentation and trying out new things.

10. Other than your Ruptured World project, do you have any other main musical ventures?

Just Ruptured World! I did dabble with some horrorsynth stuff a while back, and it’s a type of music I enjoy. But it’s not where my interests lie, really.

11. I know that you recently contributed to the ‘Hastur’ Cryo Chamber collaboration album – which was phenomenal by the way. Have you been featured on any other collaboration projects?

Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t yet featured on any other collaborations, but there may be a couple of things in the pipeline to look out for!

12. Do you have any recording plans for 2020?

Yes, I’ve actually got another “Planetary” album currently under production, so look out for that one. And I’m also working on music for video productions like the ones I’ve already produced and put on YouTube, with an aim to putting together an album at some time in the future. And there’s one or two top secret collaborations that may soon be underway. So a few things going on.

13. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have any final thought for anyone that may be reading this?

My pleasure. Thank you! I would just encourage people to keep listening, keep supporting the artists, and keep searching the skies for the gods of Dark Ambient, who must surely be out there, watching over us as we speak.

Links:

https://rupturedworld.bandcamp.com

http://alistairrennie.com

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/archeoplanetary

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/exoplanetary