“Also sprach Futura” is the latest work of dystopian singularity from a band engaged in an intense process of evolution and refinement since their eponymous 2013 debut.
LYCHGATE here meld the swarming, stained-glass complexity of 20th Century classical, the phantasmagoric, intertwining riffage of progressive Death Metal, the heft and texture of Funeral Doom and the conceptual density of forward-thinking Black Metal into four of the most addictive, propulsive and potent compositions they have created to date.
Thematically the record examines nightmarish, all-too-real concepts which include transhumanism, simulacra and simulation, post-humanity, the uncanny valley, Pygmalionism and the fictional machine Golem XIV, which exceeds human intelligence.
“Also sprach Futura” is a sui generis juxtaposition of the transcendental and the guttural, myth and metropolis, the weird and the eerie, fin-de-siècle aestheticism and a startling vision of a deeper, darker future indeed…
As I was researching the gloomy concept of their upcoming album while listening to their unreleased material I could not resist the opportunity to talk to them about the meaning of transhumanism, alternative futures and see what they are up to these days.
Hello from the depths of MHF magazine headquarters.
Would you join me on a quest to the unknown? Hop on!
What does one drink while exploring transhumanism, simulacra and other nightmarish concepts like that?
A single malt, Scotch, perhaps?
I find your ideas very Orwellian in a dystopian way. Have you guys been inspired from notable works of dystopian literature?
Dystopian fiction is our main inspiration for our lyrical subject matter. H. G. Wells, Huxley, Zamyatin (‘We’), Orwell (‘1984’), Bulgakov (‘The Master and Margarita’), Witkiewicz (‘Insatiability’), Thea von Harbou (‘Metropolis’) and so on. The exception is Stanisław Lem, whose most famous work is ‘Solaris’ – it is not dystopian, but it is relevant.
Would utilising transhumanism to enhance human intellect and physiology lead us to an unavoidable technocracy? How would that go?
We’re already subject to some kind of technocracy anyway, don’t you think? Current trends suggest it isn’t getting any better, with an increasing gap between small fish and the elite/big tech.
So let’s write our own fiction: It’s the year 2030. We have evolved into half-humans, half machines. What does Lychgate do for a living in this world? What do they look like?
2030 is not far away…! Good question. I think all the standard things would still apply – we still need healthcare, law, science etc. But everything would be easier and more efficient – calculated, automated, fewer weaknesses to hold us back and so on. I don’t imagine that my current work position would be so different. Musicians could start to play extremely tightly… it could get very boring, and it already is getting that way… especially with drummers who try to emulate programmed parts as closely as possible.
Do you fall in love with your own work? Is this what pygmalionism mean to you? If so, how do you escape perfectionism in order to appreciate your own work?
Sometimes – parts of it – some sections of my music will have more meaning to me as the writer of them. Of course, the story of Pygmalion concerns a sculptor who created his ideal woman in the form of a statue. He then implored Venus to bestow life to her. I wasn’t thinking of situations outside the realm of human visual and intellectual perfectionism when I brought that idea into our latest work.
When it comes to music, it is imperfections which lead to appreciation. It is a great irony that newer recordings have moved further and further away from the original organic and unedited works which are still the most loved to this day. We are also guilty of this obsessive dissatisfaction at times and sometimes I am asking myself why we (the music industry) still continue in this fashion. Are we in denial? Maybe we are so fearful of mistakes that we over-analyse to the point where we can no longer properly grasp what a good imperfection sounds like, compared to a bad imperfection. Studios have a lot to answer for in all of this, but that’s another story.
After how many –ism words do you start getting annoyed?
Try to break me!
If we were to make a movie about the band, who would play you?
No one, I hope!
Your photography for the new album is breathtaking! Simple but extremely creepy at the same time which to me is the best way to evoke emotion. Who is responsible for that concept?
I always personally think of the locations or concepts and then discuss them with the photographer. For our first album (the masked group photos) we did them in an obscure and isolated chapel from the 13th century near the edge of a sea cliff in an area called St Aldhelm’s Head in Dorset, in the UK. On our second album, we then took photos in Rochester Cathedral, also in the UK, but it was tricky to pull off because of wardens. I remember we were subject to a very dirty look when we were seen taking a photo with a mask. Luckily we got away with it. The last album had photos taken in Vienna because that was where I was situated at the time. It was at the Gesellschaft der Ärzte (College of Physicians) library. And lastly, the latest photos were taken at Heywood House and Mells Manor in Wiltshire/Somerset.
We try to work with creative photographers. In the same way that it is hard to find any kind of artist to work with – with photographers it is the same scenario. Sometimes it comes out, sometimes it doesn’t.
We want to finish off strong this interview with one exclusive, unknown fact about the ‘Also sprach Futura’ EP.
It was due to feature a Franz Liszt cover, but we ran out of time, so rather than squeeze everything in, we decided to play it safe and finish all the original material instead.
Until the next one,
Chelf on behalf of MHF.