Tuesday 30 June 2015

Underground Uncovered #3: O Graceful Musing's Burden

I've been eager to get another one of these features up, but after pondering who to write about, I noticed an e-mail from German band O Graceful Musing's Burden and they seemed to fit the bill. After all, this series is about bands that might be under people's radar. OGMB reside in Chemnitz and Leipzig and play music filled with black metal, ambient noise, spoken word and more besides. Founded in 2009, they released their first record, [ST:AM:PD:T:RAIL] in 2010 and followed it with EP Two in 2012. They've recently released their new three-track album, Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen in April. I caught up with Guitarist/Drummer Christoph to find out more about the band.

TNIO: Can you provide an introduction into O Graceful Musing’s Burden and who the band members are? How did you form?

OGMB: The band was founded in 2009 by Simon, a close friend of mine, on guitar and me, mainly on drums; but I also had a couple of ideas on guitar. So we both threw our ideas together. And for we were only two, we created pieces that consisted of parts for guitar and drums and other parts for two guitars, like our first piece, called „alas“, which is on our first album entitled „[st:am:pd:t:rail]“. Later Tobi, with whom I had played in a band called Philosopher, joined us on bass. He since then also was responsible for the additional sounds and synthesisers we incorporated and that still today are essential elements in our music. With Tobi in the band we could stick to the kind of music we already had begun to experiment with, because in several meanings he – as person and by the musical elements he contributed – was the perfect nexus between Simon and me respectively our musical voices: on the one hand because of the bass, on the other because of the aforesaid additional sounds, mostly field recordings – this really helped to create those long pieces with their transitions and different ambience. 

Simon left the band in 2012 or so to concentrate on his other band called continents. After having released a 30-minute two-piece album called „two“ and several of shows that we played as duo Carsten joined the band. (I had been playing bass in Carsten‘s former band Barren Soil, therefore we knew each other). We needed quite a bit still to find together, I think, but now it often feels like we are looking in the same direction. On the new album there‘s a piece called „inward passage“, which is based on his ideas. Working on it was an interesting process, not only of creating music, but also of finding together. With reference to the album several people said about this piece that it‘s of integrity though leading through a diversity of moods and ambienc. Likewise, for us, it traces an important step towards integrity as a band.

TNIO: What drew you into playing the music that you do? What influences you when writing?

OGMB: To me, this all feels rather abstract and doesn‘t follow a formula. A new musical idea comes to my mind, to my hands (i. e. when jamming) really differently. sometimes by an idea on guitar which I‘ve been playing for some time and eventually evolves to a bigger motif, sometimes a new noise or tune comes out of the instrument – obviously stimulated by my own hands – and inspires a whole theme. but this is only an instrument-based part of creating. There are further approaches which can initiate a piece or contribute to it – all the thinking and musing, for example, ranging from the existential to the trivial. It came that we began to work with literature, that means we incorporate poems or excerpts of literature into our music, either read aloud or printed in a booklet for the listener himself to read (and decide when, where and how to read it). Therefore these texts are also involved in creating. It‘s like a dialogue and a comparison between the own thinking and the thoughts recognised in the texts, lead by the question  what is expressed by these words and what are a my thoughts about it. Usually I try to find a text which, to me, represents thoughts or moods I had when a piece or an idea of a piece came to my mind. Furthermore it also happens that I‘m impressed by a thought written in a text and/or by the language, so that it inspires me. 

TNIO: You guys released “Im draußen bricht sich das drinnen” earlier this year. You’ve paid a lot of attention to detail on both the album itself and the packaging for the cassette. How did things go leading up to the release of the album and how important are the visuals to you as a band?

OGMB: Of the pieces on „im draußen...“ the last one, „Ianus“ is derived from a draft I recorded in 2007 for another project of mine called Within Dream‘s Realm. Later, in 2011 or so I began to experiment with its theme again and eventually it formed the basis of what we recorded in 2014 and included in the album. As I already mentioned above, „inward passage“ is a piece initiated by Carsten; the missing title, „nuboeiro acrarante“, is based on an idea of mine. Rehearsing, arranging, rearranging, experimenting with structures and so on we elaborated these ideas until they became what they are now. We recorded the pieces in July/August 2014 in our little rehearsal room/studio. They were later on mixed by Fountainhead, with whom I got acquainted some months before meeting friends in Berlin. Finally we‘re able to get Colin Marston on board for the mastering. 

As for the visuals, they're very important to us. not only regarding the artwork of an album, but also when it comes to live shows, where we always work with visuals, and thus add a further element to the music. Several people told that they really found it an interesting experience. (This is a very interesting topic; I mean, seeing as a means of perception is really important, I think, compared to hearing or, say, smelling. Now, imagine yourself standing in the audience of a live concert and ask yourself what are you focusing on, are you watching? Listening? Both? What else do you perceive and how and how does it feel? Anyway!). What concerns the visuals mostly Tobi, our bass player, comes up with ideas (really good ones, I think), which we then usually discuss and elaborate together. Likewise we worked on the artwork of „im draußen...“. We decided to make a booklet containing three chapters which represent the three pieces. The whole design, as it is now – a stamped cardboard box containing booklet, a sticker, download code and the tape itself – became certain when we decided to make a tape. And at least I‘m really satisfied and happy with the way it finally chose release it.

TNIO: What has the reaction to the album been like since its release? 

OGMB: All the reactions on the new album are really positive so far. I‘m really happy that also reviewers say it is a versatile and varied album and that they emphasise that there are interesting and surprising transitions between different moods and themes. The opinions tend to concede originality to the music, which is very important to me. There are a couple of reviews on live shows we played telling we had been playing typical post rock music – please don‘t get me wrong, I have no problem with people who don‘t like our music or who use the common categories to describe it – but sometimes it seems to me people either don‘t know how to „apply“ a genre name or don‘t know that it‘s just a means of describing reality without being capable of grasping reality in every aspect. And if a band is said to play post rock, obviously only because the guitarist uses some delay every once in a while and because there is no singer, I think this is simply wrong. Then it would be better to try to describe the music without using the common jargon. But that‘s another topic ...

TNIO: One of the main purposes of these interviews is to find out first-hand how emerging bands find the transition from forming, to releasing music and touring. How have you guys found it and what experience have you gained from it? 

OGMB: As probably most new founded bands so did we, in the beginning, experience being driven by the new, by experimenting, treading on new paths (at least from our perspective), receiving the first reactions, playing first shows and so on. I was convinced we were playing good and interesting music and always wanted to play more shows with this band. But I found it really difficult to organise even single concerts, or just didn‘t know how to do it. After Simon had left the band and we're only two, at times it seemed we wouldn‘t exist any longer. We simply didn't know how to go on, and felt limited by the possibilities of expressions that our two instruments offered (or what we thought they offered) and though we're used to work with a computer this alone just couldn't be the nexus or the complementary element. But then we found a way and eventually played a couple shows only the two of us. Since Carsten joined we played quite a number shows, released a new album. Those are great achievements. To me one of the most important experiences is to have a good time while playing music, while being creative. That is, to spend time with people I want to spend time with, because for certain reasons it‘s just good. Also important is to observe and to reflect on what happens (to me, to the other people in the band, also to the audience) when we play our music. What do I think and feel? In the end I can say I really appreciate to be able to play the music I want to play together with the people I want to play it. If we happen to play concerts as well, fine. If not, fine as well.

TNIO: Following on from the above question, what advice would you give to new bands who’re maybe writing/recording an album and looking for shows?

OGMB: Hm, my advice would probably be: Ask yourself why you're making music. This could be quite heavy but should help to grow as an artist and as a person (or the other way around?). For example, to me it sounds strange to hear people say they had to write two more songs to finish the album or whatever. – Why do they have to? And what is such a „song“ then? And why is it? And how can I be creative if I have to? Is this creativity then or routine? And why to play music publicly, at all? Well, it's always questionable to say that something is better or worse than another or to tell others what to do. That's why I think the people themselves have to figure out what they are doing and why. And in a band this could be even better because you can discuss it with your bandmates and thus exchange opinions which is always helpful to find out about yourself.

TNIO: As a live band, you’re played some really mixed bills. How good is your local extreme metal scene at the moment and do you have any interaction with bands outside of it?

OGMB: „extreme metal scene“ sounds a bit strange to me, but sure, you are right – we somehow could be described like that, too. In fact all of us used to play in death metal bands before and are kind of familiar with the scene, but with OGMB we usually play shows in different locations, rather in squats or similar places. Though in the Leipzig area you happen to see metal heads, punks, hardcore fans at the same shows there are still clichés and reservation towards music/bands/people being considered different. – Hm, this is probably the same topic as I already mentioned above when talking about genres. Sure, there are many people who are open-minded and seek to combine different styles of music. But it's for sure as well, unfortunately, that if you tend to the uncommon you'll experience difficulties. Friends of mine, for example, play in a band called Krelm. They themselves call their style „suprising metal“, others would probably call it krautmetal. They played a real good concert last year in October. To me everything sounded and felt perfect, I was impressed by their musicality and musical wit. But the bigger part of the audience that beforehand was celebrating rather average stoner rock had disappeared and Krelm were playing to a bunch of friends and enthusiasts. I could add more examples and I think everyone else reading this, too. But in my opinion this shouldn‘t lead to the common thrust of complaining, which, I fear, doesn‘t change anything. At the same time I haven‘t found yet anything ripe to add to the issue. 

TNIO: What are your future plans as a band? 

OGMB: To be honest there are no certain plans. All of us are in several other bands and projects and I think o graceful musing's burden is a band we regard more and more calmly, that is to say, as a project where nothing has to be done unless it feels like it. We are working on a new piece at the moment, which has, if I was to describe it, a more open character, feels really light, at times almost Cynic-ish (without claiming we sounded like them). I thought of maybe make a split release with only this piece or so, but it was just a thought – and I didn't think it any further, like which band to ask to take part and so on. We'll see!


1. Nuboeiro Acrarante
2. Inward Passage
3. Ianus

O Graceful Musing’s Burden has a really broad musical palette, as demonstrated in the above interview and hearing Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen compounds that notion. Opening piece Nuboeiro Acrarante contains a vast instrumental build up of percussion, as well as both electric and acoustic guitars. OGMB head into expansive post-metal, filled with crunching riffs and ambient melodies. Around the six-minute mark, the song settles into a meandering passage of noise and quietly plucked acoustic guitar that brings to mind the more ambient side of black metal. For an instrumental band, OGMB provides plenty of imagery, hidden with their quiet/loud dynamic, only occasionally breaking into upbeat post-rock territory. Their compositions follow each other without pause and are linked via subtle ambience. Inward Passage builds on OGMB’s progressive nature, though it isn’t as immediate as Nuboeiro Acrarante. There’s more use of synths during Inward Passage and it in fact acts as a vessel for inward thought and reflection, which may be what the band intended. It’s also the first time that spoken word is heard amongst the music. OGMB use two readings from “Cancion Ultima” by Miguel Hernandez Gilabert and “White Flag” by Jack London during the record, which add an extra haunting layer to their music. It’s during Inward Passage that OGMB hit their most violent high, in terms of musical battery. Flailing, thrashing blackened guitar that makes up small sections during the song. OGMB take you through many different movements and on Ianus, the quiet backdrop that greets the Spanish spoken word is especially calming after the heavier Inward Passage. They may be a three-piece, but this band sure knows how to create big soundscapes that touch your soul. There are also subtle hints of screamo and indie melodies in Ianus, but I say that in hushed tones as I’m sure the band sees them as more experimental textures instead. These three tracks come in at nearly an hour and are totally worth the time. OGMB have written and released music that speaks more than any band with a traditional frontman as it’s mouthpiece. If the doesn’t restore your faith in originality and creativity in music, especially in the wake of a certain rap star proclaiming he’s the “greatest rock star in the world”, then quite frankly you need your head seeing to. There’s more to our lives than the manufactured shite that mainstream media feeds us and this is where you start to realise it.

You can stream and purchase a digital download of Im Draußen Bricht Sich Das Drinnen below:-

O Graceful Musing's Burden has also crafted a great tape package for this release, house in a card CD  size box, which can be purchased from their bandcamp page above.

O Graceful Musing's Burden Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ogracefulmusingsburden

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