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Insect Ark Sing the Gospel of “Marrow Hymns”

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The music of psychedelic noise and doom duo Insect Ark is heavy with emotion: nascent sentiment drips from its angles like neon wax from a candle. There may be no vocals in this instrumental outfit, but there’s an immense movement of poetry throughout. The group’s newest release, the dark and topographical Marrow Hymns, due out February 23rd via Profound Lore, is akin to a dream you hurriedly search for while locked inside another: a message with no answer, a dark hymn that sits just under your tongue.

“You know when you have a dream that’s just super bizarre,” asks founder Dana Schechter. “You can’t explain it, you can’t draw it; words barely describe? That’s the same place the music comes from. It’s tapping into a place where all the mental, emotional, and physical experiences combine. The dream or message is left as an abstraction, open for interpretation.”

Marrow Hymns burrows into your mind like a complex web of substance, filling portals like roots in a reflective glass. There is another layer behind the sound: a form that wraps the compositions like a blanket in the desert of space. You can feel an intimacy that is complete. An area destined to contain the outside of your inner-world. Like a black hole far away, the band careens across a wide expanse of textural pastures, continually seeking the center, but never fully collapsing.

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“Space is a necessity,” notes drummer Ashley Spungin. “Space can be visualized by meditation, closing one’s eyes and envisioning a place where the chaos is not present. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could provide a soundtrack for that experience?”

“I’m a huge fan of empty space and regularly throw away my belongings in an attempt to encourage mental clarity,” adds Schechter. “I have a theory that our stuff all has memories attached to it, and if you get rid it, you’re not consumed by those ghosts. I suppose this mantra finds its way into the music.”

Technically, the duo, who are both visual artists, have the ability to achieve a unique transcendence that is dependant on more than just the ability to play an instrument. They both think around the instrument, through the instrument, use it as a means to express the nature of their thoughts. Their musical path is circular, like a star crisscrossing the galaxy. Throughout this journey they attach the listener’s heart upon their own: make a connection that is paramount to the forceful tide that hits.

“I feel the visual element is very important to both of us,” Spungin says. “The music is a big part of the experience, but not the whole experience. I hope that our music can invoke the feeling one gets from seeing art and watching film. It becomes more of a personal experience, less about listening to another record or watching two people perform.”

“Music conveys raw emotion and visual or tactile experiences are just guidelines,” Schechter adds. “We hope listeners find a thread to make it their own.”

Schechter — who’s been a part of bands like Zeal & Ardor, Gnaw and Bee, and Flower — started Insect Ark as a solo project in 2011. Spungin, who’s played with Taurus and Negative Queen, among others, joined in 2015. Though they live on different sides of the Country, the duo is something of a giant mindscape: a brain that can embed and code lengthy tunnels of light and grey. Individually, they’re powerful artists. Together, their strengths collapse into an impressive canvas of organic industrialization.

“We’re most productive as a band when we are together,” Spungin notes. “We are both driven individually to progress as musicians and artists in our own right. The time we spend apart allows us space to formulate and explore new ideas to bring to the table when we are able to get together for practice.”

“Working alone is a totally different animal,” Schechter notes. “I think the most noticeable difference is in sheer volume, as our relative solo sets tend to be quieter, more atmospheric. When writing together, we generally send ideas back and forth — riffs, songs, beats, scraps, and textures — then meet up for anywhere from one to two weeks to flush ideas out. Doing this with more than one person keeps it immediate and less prone to over analyzing and going down rabbit holes, which can happen when working alone.”

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Marrow Hymns dreams itself up like a whirling Silver City of spoons and oceans. There is intimacy and complete denial, a grand expanse of humanness and machinery. The music finds a way to putter with your heartbeat, from your toes to your featureless mind. It’s an absolute extension of ultimate expression: a trait that produces an existence with a definite experience.

“Music has always been my way to communicate things I can’t find words for,” Schechter explains. “It’s a way to escape the world, and other people, all its chaos, fear and judgment. With music, I’ve given myself permission to exist in a very personal place and make something on my own terms. It’s been crucial in helping me find my voice in a world choked with so many other voices; it’s easy to drown. I carved out a tiny space for myself with music, and even if nobody heard it ever again, I’d continue.”

Luckily, we can all hear it, evaporating and blowing through our minds like the whispers of a great unknown. Beyond the desert, the coasts, lying like a phantom atop the pyramid of eternity.

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