The Sun and the Mirror Shine a Somber Light on a “Dissolution to Salt and Bone” (Early Album Stream + Q&A)
The circumstances behind the creation of Dissolution to Salt and Bone are definitely unusual (we'll get to that later), but as a standalone record, it still stands as a truly peculiar offering. Drone-doom rarely experiments with the mystical frequencies that swirl inside this album as much as The Sun and the Mirror have done here, and the genre even less frequently attempts this kind of daring variety of vocals, instrumentation, and tone. Dissolution to Salt and Bone is a passage through a harsh borderland between the familiar and the alien, occasionally offering up chunks of eccentric doom that stand like oppressive castles in its dour kingdom. Getting into this music requires listening to the album in full—fortunately, we're streaming it in full now plus a Q&A with the band.
About the aforementioned unusual circumstances: Dissolution to Salt and Bone was written while on an RV trip to scatter a family member's ashes. Both the limitations of the environment and the trip's impetus shape the sound and concept of the album, but it also incorporates a host of psychedelically-tinged elements. On "Interval I", brassy low-end horn textures mesh with acerbic fuzz and thrumming resonance to create a reverent continuum: it almost sounds like throat singing. "Currents" introduces reverb-drenched vocals and guitar work, aiming to induce a trance—which is sharply interrupted in the last third by a burst of full-on doom.
There's a sense of pairing that runs through the record; from the band and album title's use of coupled nouns to the album structure itself: "Interval II" starts off the second half with an ambient buildup like its predecessor, but this time it's bleakly anxious: pressure builds up around the swelling track like it's about to burst your eardrums. Like the first half's sequence, it's followed by a lengthier track, "Katherinella Angustri," that shifts from drone to trippy, cyclical doom part way through. The lilting, mysterious vocals from "Currents" reappear here, haunting in their indecipherability.
Even with an ever-present sense of forlorn gloom, it's remarkably easy to sink into the hypnotic cadence that Dissolution to Salt and Bone creates. As it whispers and laments in a strange and captivating tongue, it provides a new take on its subject matter and the expansive realm of drone-doom music.
Check out a Q&A with the band below.
As a somewhat-new fan of Brucia Records, The Sun and the Mirror seems like a perfect fit for their roster. How did you end up working with them?
First of all, thank you for featuring our record, and for saying we’re a good fit amongst such a solid label roster. We’ve really loved the articles and premieres you’ve offered, and we’re honored to be featured in your pages. And yes, we also have become big fans of Brucia records. We ran across them online, and really liked their roster of artists, and were struck by their visual approach and their statement about how they work with releases, saying that they “tailor each release to enhance and complement our bands unique aesthetic. We do not create products, but visions that add value to music.” That kind of ethic and commitment was very appealing. So, we sent them our album and Void got in touch. Him and Giorgio have been really great to work with. It’s been a very satisfying collaboration so far, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work with them. We were extremely happy with the design of the album, which was a collaboration between Sarah and the label. It turned out great, and they’ve been really smart about how to present it. The relationship between the band, our manager,and the label has been really smooth, a very good balance. They’ve taken the release very seriously, while allowing for creative freedom and open communication, which is incredibly valuable and rare.
How did the unusual circumstances that Dissolution to Salt and Bone was composed in impact your writing process? Did you do anything differently than you would have if you weren't on the road?
It’s kind of difficult to identify how the particular circumstances didn’t impact the writing process. We were just so deeply immersed in the grieving process and the trauma of loss that it overtook our reality. As for if we did anything differently, that is a solid question that we haven’t necessarily thought about. But, yeah, given that we were camped in the woods in an RV when we started digging into the creation of the record, that was definitely outside our norm. It was definitely a deeper sense of isolating and just being in nature and experimenting with ideas when we got back to camp. Currently, as we work on new material, it’s sort of an interesting reflection on that level of isolation. We aren’t in personal grief and turmoil, but most of the world is in an exacerbated state of chaos and pain, and, you know, quarantine has been another example of extended isolation, maybe moreso. We have been relatively fortunate. Even though we’ve experienced some level of financial discomfort and lockdown isolation, so many others have had much more intense experiences. For instance, in the area we live the authorities have been sweeping homeless camps, destroying what little property our fellow humans have. The callousness is truly horrifying, especially given the wide evidence in our faces of racial and socio-economic inequality, and systemically enforced suffering on wide display. So, while we personally haven’t suffered as much in the last year, widespread anguish is all around us. Because of this, and the fact that one never really “gets over” their past, we are exploring similar thematic material in our new work. But, the writing process at the moment is definitely less extreme. We both semi-casually work on sketches and bits and pieces of ideas. It’s still taking a long time to develop, as Dissolution to Salt and Bone did, but, the initial creation has been less intense and pressurized, though, on a mental and emotional level it’s just as all encompassing.
How did you come up with the themes and the concept behind the album? Could you tell me a little bit more about how those play out across it?
In the years leading up to writing the album, we were live-in caregivers for Sarah’s dad, who had cancer, and her grandmother, who had dementia. After he passed we took a pretty hard dive into grief. Reggie lost his father to suicide when he was fifteen, so had a shadow of grief coloring everything he did artistically, so, the record is very much a contemplation of loss, the grieving process, but also a meditation on constancy and change in the natural world, which has been an ongoing way of seeing reality, but also was definitely intensified by the environment in which we were writing. These themes are woven throughout the lyrics, and also shape the way the pieces are structured, and inspired the sonic textures we channeled. There was also some level of inspiration for lyrical content from poetry, particularly from Robert Duncan and Wordsworth. The intervals idea comes from a few places, though, primarily a wordplay between the actual concept of intervals in music theory, as in pitch differences between notes, and interludes, a somewhat intentional misuse, partly because of an inside joke about exercise intervals, and a mountain biker who absolutely flipped his shit at us on a hiking trail.
What's next for the band? Do you have any release-day plans?
We’re working on some new material, specifically a black metal EP, and are sketching out the next LP. As for release day, we are very much following the label’s lead with release day promo stuff. If it were appropriate to do so, we’d normally do a show. We’ll probably cook up something special to mark the day, to be revealed soon enough. We’ll almost definitely go for a hike, and spend some time by the water to reflect on the last few years, and the culmination of a lot of hard work on our part, and those who’ve supported us along the way.
Dissolution to Salt and Bone releases April 2nd via Brucia Records.