Nemorensis Casts Out Darkness On “The Fae Queen”
It’s like waking from a dream.
Before now, Nemorensis was sleepless, an insomniac’s waking nightmare of overwhelming hallucinations of frigidity and death. The Lady in the Lake was a soul exorcism: sole musician Ross Major’s cleansing of inner demons, and he emerged from the other side a new man.
“Upon the completion of The Lady In The Lake, I wept openly,” Major once told me.
He had barely slept before and during the process of composition. It was a time of darkness, but darkness is no stranger to Major’s music. His work as At Dusk dealt with a deep, near-suicidal depression, and Nemorensis grew as the existential dread manifested thereafter. It was a state of reverie, though without the pleasant sort of drift and lilt which is so often connoted with it. The silence which came thereafter seemed hopeful, like a musical sense of zen contentment. Speaking was almost unnecessary.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard this music before. A privately made CD-R copy of The Fae Queen randomly appeared at my doorstep last winter. It was unexpected, but worrisome. Had this darkness returned? We’d forged a friendship over these last seven or so years, and it’s strange to think of bouts of muse-guided creation as a warning sign.
Through The Fae Queen, things appear different now. However wintry or ethereal, Nemorensis has transformed from a deep torment to a treatise on beauty. There is structure now, and bombastic clarity. As opposed to a single, sleepless night of terror and overwhelming doubt, the project is loving, a comfort Major built for himself.
“‘The Fae Queen’ is literally a love song,” says Major, “a simple expression of sublimity and growth, rather than a rite of passage that descends to the underworld and exorcises internal demons.”
Love, as we know, might not be something which can be immediately ascribed to the perceived and advertised negativity which outwardly defines black metal. It’s really, truly an ugly thing, but Nemorensis, and Major behind it, paid its dues to the world of darkness.
It’s strange to think of such an echoic, keyboard-drenched black metal band, so deeply steeped in its own atmospheres, to be something other than hateful, and yet… it exudes Major’s own inward change. No longer lost in obscurity, a much more concrete Nemorensis represents the artist finding himself. Contentment is such a beautiful rarity.
The Fae Queen will be released digitally and on tape through Sol y Nieve Records on November 27th. Listen to an exclusive debut of the album below, along with an interview with the artist himself.
The Fae Queen is very obviously a stylistic shift from The Lady in the Lake, striking enough a difference even with a few years between the two. What led to this more reserved, keyboard and synthesizer-dominated approach?
The Lady In The Lake was largely improvised and completed over the course of just three days, at a time when I was regularly performing loop-station based psychedelic drone shows. I didn’t own any synthesizers at the time besides a generic midi controller. The Fae Queen was completed over a much longer span of time, during which I had become much more interested in synth-based music through my collaborations with Some Ember and Blood Bright Star. Each song individually still represents a spontaneous effusion in the Shelleyian sense of “breath,” “inspiration,” “spiritus,” and most had the bare song recorded in a single sleepless night, but I did spend a bit more time coming back and adding more layers with the keyboards.
I never really got that improvisational feel from The Lady in the Lake, if we’re being totally candid. It carries a wisdom and deliberation I’d expect from a project like Paysage d’Hiver or Klage. Something which feels created and fermented over a long period of time. How do you feel the project has changed or matured now that you’re taking a more songwriting-oriented approach?
I’m complimented you would think that. In a way, the ideas and emotions I attempted to express in that recording were indeed cultivated over a very long period of time, though the primary instigating factor that finally drew it out came in the form of a dream. I’m not sure if I would describe the newer material as a “maturation.” It’s just a different creature. The transformative ritual aspect is not the primary motivation anymore; I suspect growing older and finding a more comfortable existence has something to do with it. I suppose that is maturation, though — psychic intensity isn’t quite as extreme, and I’m not driven to go completely out of my head to undertake these massively long compositions anymore.
So the primary material came from a place of discomfort and uncertainty?
Yes. I think we seek higher powers and mystical answers when the material fails to fulfill, or when we are unsatisfied with our internal state. “The Fae Queen” is literally a love song, a simple expression of sublimity and growth, rather than a rite of passage that descends to the underworld and exorcises internal demons.
In shifting the focus of Nemorensis from excising darkness to an embracing of innerlicht, has there been any personal insight? Something that might not be immediately accessed from simply listening to the music?
My conscious experience is no longer a series of epiphanic triumphs over deep existential despair, cycling over and over in a samsaric spiral. For a long time, I feared that leaving those psychological extremes would mean a great loss in terms of having an interesting or exciting existence in this short time we all have. But I think it’s good to level out, to embrace simplicity and simple joys and pleasures rather than indulging the absolutes of desolation and ecstasy again and again.
Do you feel the more structured approach to this second outing as Nemorensis reflects this embracing of simplicity?
Definitely. There is beauty to be found in placidity. You don’t have to be tortured to create. That took me a long time to understand.
Is this a freeing notion? You’ve obviously created some very tortured music in the past.
It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to give up doing what you love to attain some semblance of stability. Having experienced those extremes, I can still revisit those states of mind if I care to and draw upon them for inspiration at my leisure, without it being quite so dangerous. It’s similar to how I no longer use psychedelic drugs… once you’ve spent enough time in these states, you know how to see through that lens.
So this can be seen as a more organic experience of the artist, then.
I don’t know if it’s more or less. I used to think the “truest” material was, by necessity, done in the throes of some overwhelming passion. Now I’m not sure. It’s Wordsworth versus Keats — both had such wonderfully fecund poetic spirits, just one lived to see his 80th birthday and the other didn’t.
If you are uncertain about validity as far as the way music and art is experienced, do you feel validity is something in art at all? Or am I being too reductive?
I suppose that ultimately one needn’t be too concerned with the validity of the art they consume. It works on a different level. It’s experiential. You don’t need to know how something was made or who made it to be moved by it, transported by it, to have it aid you on your path, to escape into it. We’re approaching “art versus artist” territory here, which I don’t really care to address. I just hope the things I make reach the right people and make them feel something.
You’ve created a lot of music — under your own name, as At Dusk, as part of Blood Bright Star, Dry Insides, Fetters, and so on. Where does Nemorensis fall, now that the project is a few years old?
There’s music I do for fun and music I do to express myself in more serious ways. Nemorensis falls under the latter. While other things I do are more mono-polarically “depressive” or angry or antagonistic or even just frivolous, Nemorensis is a channel for more dynamic reflections.
Do you feel this dynamism could lead to another future shift in style should there be more work under this banner?
It could go just about anywhere so far as the music’s concerned. If I’m making music and it’s exultative or transformative to me personally, this is the project that is meant to assert things of that nature.
Follow Nemorensis on Bandcamp.