Chicago’s Locrian combine noise rock, drone, electronics and black metal in a way that may not be conventionally “heavy,” yet maintains the weighty themes of dread and desolation. Such is the case with “Two Moons”, the third track from the band’s newest release Return To Annihilation which we are premiering today. Listen here:
I also spoke with Terence and André via email about Return To Annihilation their recording process, and working in Steve Albini’s Chicago studio. Check out our conversation and their upcoming US tour dates below.
Locrian has self-released many past albums; why choose to work with Relapse now? What do you like about working with Relapse?
Terence: Well it’s been a while since we’ve self-released anything outside of our private label Land of Decay which would normally be like a tour only cassette release. I think we’ve respected Relapse for a long time whether it be the stuff they did with Merzbow and Angel of Decay on their old Release imprint or like classics from Human Remains and Incantation and then when they started working recently with our friends Horseback. When they approached us it made a lot of sense. Honestly I enjoy working with Relapse because of their support of who we are as well as the legacy of some of the great records they put out.
André: Working with Relapse has let us focus less on all of the administrative BS that goes along with being a musician, and helped us to focus on our music. I have a lot of respect for Relapse and for the other small record labels that we’ve worked with.
Why title it Return To Annihilation?
Terence: The whole concept of the album is about the Earth rejecting our civilization by way of some form cataclysm which then it mirrors back on itself. So it is cyclical. Also where we were recording we returned to older themes and were blurring, destroying and rebuilding them into something new. So it fit the way we were working too. On one hand it has to do with the themes of the album but also the method we were working in.
Where did the recording process begin for Return To Annihilation?
Terence: We started with the themes and concept first, these textures we wanted. There was this novel Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney we wanted to reference, or Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. Then we laid out ideas about like writing multi-part songs like classic prog songs as well as shorter songs. Then we started sending sketches of riffs, song ideas back and forth via e-mail. I live in Baltimore and Steven and André live in Chicago, so they would send me ideas and I would write stuff for it and vice versa. After that we got together in Chicago and the day before the studio and really hammered out the ideas and left some room for working in the studio.
André: After we recorded as a group last August, I spent a few nights in Greg Norman’s home studio doing guitar overdubs. I wrote a lot of those guitar parts after the three of us recorded the main parts for the album.
Do you have a recording process that you generally follow for every album or is it more spontaneous?
Terence: Every record is different. Between The Clearing and this record were a series of collaborations which all had different parameters. So Return to Annihilation was the most preparation we probably had actually, the most we discussed before we went in, the more we made demos and the bigger the idea was for us. We improvise a lot, so we definitely use the space and time to allow a track to go where it needs to go but with the parameters we set up we could kind of define what we wanted easier.
André: On this album, we wanted most of the songs to be concise: or ideally long enough to fit on one side of a 7” record. I think that approach helped us to focus our efforts.
What was it like working with Greg Norman/at Steve Albini’s Chicago studio?
Terence: Oh it was great! We had worked with Greg for our collaboration with Mamiffer, Bless Them That Curse You, and just really clicked with him and the way they do things at Electrical Audio. We had not recorded in the back room before Return to Annihilation and that was what was available and it was perfect. I knew I liked how they did drums, and in that space they were perfect, and the more acoustic instruments like tympani, grand piano and stuff. Plus they have a mellotron and this old EDP Wasp synth I like. I mean Neurosis had just finished Honor Found in Decay there so there is a legacy. Whitehouse did Thank Your Lucky Stars there.
André: Yeah, amazing, Greg is such a great engineer. I think that we found him because Trevor from Pelican recommended him to Aaron Turner for our Locrian & Mamiffer album. So thanks Trevor!
Can you tell me about the album’s narrative, and where the inspiration came in from prog acts like King Crimson?
Terence: Return to Annihilation begins with a brief preface about the change with monuments dissolving and a landscape that is pure ruinless. This is followed by Part One made up of the following three songs that detail a cataclysm, then two moons emerge in the sky followed by our complete dissolution into the ether, which culminates with the landscape being described again and the narrator admitting his unreliability and confessing to noctambulism. Then Part 2, is composed of another three songs. Here we exit halls of vapor and light into a panorama of mirror, this culminates in a four part song that goes through the desire for equilibrium, the atmosphere changing, witnessing our entire civilization buried in urns and then a transformation of everything into crystal and this transformation admitting our awakening from this dream. Part One and Two mirror each other darkly, and where Part 2 ends the Preface can begin again, we really wanted it to feel circular or cyclical and reflective.
I would say the progressive influence was probably from King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon with how it was structured, where it would have brief moments and then longer more epic multi-part tracks. And the mellotron was a big thing for me and EA had one so I was able to get all Emerson Lake and Palmer. I’d also add that Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was a big influence too, this long surreal narrative.
André: We love themes and prog albums were some of the most influential albums to us growing up. There are a few themes that pop up in different places throughout our discography. Our Obsolete Elegies quadrilogy on our new album harkens back to the theme on our first studio album: Drenched Lands.
What’s next for Locrian? Any future collaborations coming down the line like we’ve seen with Mamiffer and Horseback?
Terence: We’ll be out playing a few dates on the east this June and then the Boomslang Festival in Lexington, KY. But at the moment we want Return to Annihilation to breathe.
André: I’m excited to play again. We’ll release more music when we feel like the time is right. Thanks so much for talking to us.
LOCRIAN US TOUR DATES
June 28 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus
June 29 Pawtucket, RI Machines with Magnets
June 30 Baltimore MD Metro Gallery
Sep 20-22 Lexington, KY Boomslang Fest