Saturday, December 19, 2015

EXCLUSIVE ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW | ASCETIC "EVERYTHING IS BECOMING"



Ascetic is Saxon Jörgensen, August Skipper and Andrew Jigalin. 
 ‘EVERYTHING IS BECOMING’ is the second album from the post punk dark wave three piece, following up from the 2013 release - Self​-​Initiation



It is clear from song one, an evolution and unraveling has begun both poetical and musically from Ascetic's early release to their now new sonic exploration. There is a sense of awakening and a sense of exhilaration through what feels like the pain of realising... The internal struggle of darkness and redemption. 

The soundtrack to what feels likes a visceral experience as much as a sonic one is rifled with your standard weapons of choice - guitar, bass, vocals and electronic drums, but like mine fields and dark pop symphonies littered through an empty gritty Berlin street. You find found sounds, voice memos, field recordings, synths and samples all woven into the fabric of each song with an aggressive and almost somber at times evocation of feeling. 

The longing, the paranoia, the self destruction and the ultimate transcendence is what lyrically clings to you and was what resonated so much with me. Two songs in,  I felt reinvigorated that dark wave/post punk/cold wave (or whatever "genre" we're using now) has finally risen to what I feel is a higher level beyond the audible but once again lighting that fire of the experience itself under my heels that a lot of this "genre" seems too afraid or maybe too restrained to expose. 

"EVERYTHING IS BECOMING" is torment, depression, lament, gothic shoe gaze and industrial and synth pop all at once and it isn't afraid to show it and engage in the process it with the listener. 



I briefly spoke with August Skipper of ASCETIC this evening and below is that conversation; 

ASCETIC. How would you describe the band and the essential ethos of the band? 

The heart of the band is really the connection between Saxon and I, we’re family, and our families are historically entwined in a strange, tragic and beautiful way, we’ve been writing together for nearly ten years now.  I think it’s hard to put into words what we’re consciously trying to do, I don’t think there is an objective goal in any sense, more of an organic development playing off our respective aesthetics, the shape this has taken is the result of a long evolution. I would say we are both drawn to finding beauty and the transcendent in the grotesque, you’ll find that in nearly all the songs, it’s something more aggressive than melancholia, Saxon fittingly described it as ‘bloom-gloom’, raking the listener through the muck before you give them the moment in the song.  I think like the title of the album suggests, we will continue changing and evolving, so will the sound, the form and the ethos.

"EVERYTHING IS BECOMING" is a clear evolution in all forms. How would you describe the album? And would you say it was symbiotic of the inner struggle of you, yourself or is it something metaphorical? 

The album comes out of an intense period of change and struggle.  During the European tour for ‘Self-Initiation’, we were two weeks in and the thought of returning to Australia didn’t seem right, we had no plans to stay, it just compellingly felt like the right thing to do, it was both Saxon and my first time in Europe and to experience it through tour was such an intense and potent way to get a grasp of the continent, in a different city every night, the scale and the history becomes so shockingly apparent when you’ve been living in this giant desert country your entire life, to think you can fly for four hours from Melbourne to Perth and you’ll pass only one city between, in the same country, I think that’s singular, then the dislocated European heritage makes returning to Europe feel like some part of your brain just switches on, something uncanny, like a dream where everything feels kinetically familiar though people may speak in alien tongues.  So, immigration was a big influence, half of the songs were written in some form in Australia but all were completed in Berlin, they’ve had time themselves to evolve.  We’ve been through so much personal change and so much aesthetic development that these songs could have come out in so many different ways in the interim but the struggle of getting things together here meant that it was only in the last six months that we’ve had the stability to concertedly write, rehearse, compile and record, Andrew was a big help in that regard, getting things together, finding a rehearsal studio, recording studio, he got us in touch with James who produced the record etc.
                  I arranged the unfolding of the record in something of an ascent, with an introduction and a conclusion, it is the exploration of the collapse and restructuring of identity.

When it comes to composition and collaboration. Can you explain the dynamic between yourself, Saxon and Andrew? And what is it that makes it work? 

Hard work.  This record was written between Saxon and I, it’s a typical collaboration I think and fairly even in what we contributed to the record, Saxon will write the arrangement for a song and I will write the lyrics, I will write the chord structure / lyric for a song and Saxon will write lead, then there are songs that I have written that I got stuck with or bored of or that went under my radar and Saxon will re imagine them or point out the ones that are worth keeping that I had abandoned.  I wrote Exegesis and Saxon really took it to another level with the strange machine sounds that you can hear throughout, then sometimes I will just have an empty chunk of a song which I have a mood or concept for which I’ll ask Saxon to fill in, then we wrote Atheism out of a jam we had together which was one of the last songs written for the record.




Lyrically, there is less a feeling of what is lost and more melancholia but more a move towards a more aggressive internal rebellion and defiance comparatively to the first album. Where did that come from and what do you think happened lyrically and poetically when working on this album?

The record is about this collapse and restructure I mentioned, I think you describe it well, the transition, the melancholia of the first record, it is a yearning, but what happens when the yearning is quelled?  I think that’s the fundamental perspective of the record, what happens when you answer all your great questions?  It is set in the stars that the seeker should devour their own image, they avow their own downfall, I found this great philosophical/spiritual answer to the searching of my early 20’s and it cast me into a serious depression, walking around with this untranslatable realization in my head.  One emerges from the ruin of their past self, one can fester there, looking backward trying to regain something they have lost or they can head forward and forge something anew, this is the aggression of the record, it’s the summoning of all of one’s energy, it is the firing of the forge, it is saying no to fate and yes to desire, yes to becoming.

If you had to sum up this album simply to someone who have never heard ASCETIC before what would you say? 

Everything is becoming.

What can we expect from ASCETIC in 2016? What's next?

There is the Berlin launch on the 5th of February and then touring Europe for the next couple of months, I would LOVE to play Australia for this tour and we’ve not been back for nearly three years, so it’s somewhat overdue. 

We have a remix EP featuring Ancient Methods, Phase Fatale, Elisabeth Dixon and Luna Violenta coming out on vinyl on ‘Instruments of Discipline’ in the months following the release.

We will then be self-recording an EP or a single for release in the next six months, it should be something of a departure from the traditional line up, relying more heavily on live sampling and exploring more deconstructed arrangements.




"EVERYTHING IS BECOMING" was Recorded in Berlin at Vox Ton studios with James Masson producing and Nick Foglia as studio engineer, the record will be released through Paris Manic Depression Records.  
Digital Release and CD Release out NOW HERE

Vinyl Release out 17th January