By Kevin Page. I was able to track down the elusive Ayloss, the sole man behind the Greek black metal band Spectral Lore for this special interview and discussion on his recent (and future) work. Since 2012 you've been quite busy with releases. 2 full length albums, 3 splits and 1 EP. That's quite a bit of material for one person in a 3 year span. What would you attribute to this prolific outburst?By Kevin Page.
I was able to track down the elusive Ayloss, the sole man behind the Greek black metal band Spectral Lore for this special interview and discussion on his recent (and future) work.
Since 2012 you've been quite busy with releases. 2 full length albums, 3 splits and 1 EP. That's quite a bit of material for one person in a 3 year span. What would you attribute to this prolific outburst?
It might look like this judging from the release dates, but you must take into consideration that III, the biggest and most concentrated Spectral Lore album of this period, was basically composed between 2008 and 2013 (that’s why it’s called the third album) so in reality my productivity has been more linear than it looks. Still, there has been a rise I guess, although I would not call it an outburst. I spend a lot of time doing albums and many times I’d wish it was a faster, more streamlined process. The reasons were that this had been a good period of my life, inspiration was flowing quite often, but it also was an effect of consciously seeing myself as a music-maker, Like this is what I should be doing, my calling and so on. I plan to be making a lot of music in the future too, if the practical difficulties of life don’t get that much into the way.
|Artwork by Benjamin A. Vierling|
It seems you deliberately eschew the typical black metal aesthetic of nihilism and negativity. III deals with positivity and expanding your boundaries (among other things). Talk about that aspect.
I do definitely eschew nihilism, This viewpoint doesn’t stand any criticism whatsoever, but I wouldn’t say that about “negativity” in general, this is a very cloudy notion so one would have to define what they mean with that. Spectral Lore has almost nothing to do with the themes of typical black metal, so I don’t really call my music like that anymore (my influences are much wider anyway) but it is definitely no poppy songs either that tell us we should always have a positive attitude to life, right? In an absolute, abstract sense I do believe in positivity as in continuing to live, grow, progress, transcend and so on, as pretty much every reasonable person. But the human psyche is not an entirely rational agent. At least in the way that they are manifested in our consciousness, a large part of human desires are irrational, remnants of old paths of evolution, responses to problems that don’t exist or have become very different nowadays.
For example, when you’re depressed or in a very bad mood, your thoughts aren’t making any sense, or you might be making reasonable thoughts but they might not be able to improve your mood at all. Clearly, “something else” is needed. By expressing negative feelings, sometimes even by being attracted by them and seeking them actively, there happens a catharsis, which is what the soul seems to need. Of course, the trick is to not let the irrational consume you, but to make it be subordinate to logic and a positive outlook indeed. So, there is definitely “negativity” in Spectral Lore as well, for example the first part of III is quite dark and depressive, "Sentinel" is very dissonant and aggressive, even hateful. But it was a kind of middle path that always attracted me, a point somewhere between light and dark, so to say.
In regards to your question of how the expanding of boundaries is expressed, this is also an example; by exploring and understanding our "dark" side. But it is such a central theme in my lyrics which is like asking me to explain all of them briefly. There is no gain for the reader in this; in fact, I try to write them in a rather direct way so that it won’t be needed. Let me mention instead some subjects which interest me and lie on the background of the albums; life’s origin and relationship with the universe, destiny of the human race, evolution of consciousness, technology/futurology, politics and ideology, psychology, individuation, structures of reality.
After III, you released a split album with Nachtreich called The Quivering Lights. Interesting collaboration. How did this come about?
Peter from Nachtreich simply sent me an email, said he followed my project for years and suggested a split album. It was to be a small thing in the beginning, as they had the unreleased track "Lights" and they offered a one-to-one track split EP, but I suggested to make something bigger and of a more conceptual and collaborative nature. We finally decided to basically build a whole album from the "Lights" track. I made a track in response to Lights, "Quivering" and then Nachtreich wrote a new track after hearing mine, which I then responded to with another one and so on, until we had 6 tracks. You can say that we built a kind of narrative eventually, a story, so we decided to mix the order of our tracks and blend the borders between a split album and a collaboration.
Which leads us to the Voyager EP that was released earlier this year. It seems to build on the theme and feel of Cosmic Significance on III. Listening to this ambient/electronic (non black metal) reminds me of going to the planetarium in school and also recent video games like Mass Effect.
Τhanks. Although I've never played Mass Effect, I've seen the reference again in a few places, so possibly there's a similarity. This was a fun album in all aspects - for this year, I've decided to stop with full length and split releases in the regular style (which is pretty much a collection of every genre of music that I like) and experiment, releasing EPs in specific styles that I hadn't explored a lot until now. I wanted to do a pure ambient/electronic album for long time now, so I decided it was about time. Inspiration came from space exploration games (the album is kind of structured like a soundtrack - you've got the epic tracks, the exploration tracks, the dark/horror tracks and so on) mostly from EVE online and from electronic music artists that I like such as Steve Roach, Stellardrone, Solar Fields, Ian Boddy.
You're right in that it seems like a continuation of "Cosmic Significance" and I realized it too, but it was somewhat of a coincidence that III finished with a song in that style, I would do it anyway. Although I'm not proficient at all with electronic music production, I'm happy with the musical result - technically. I'm aware that it's lacking, but I believe it was a good first step towards that direction. I will probably do a second part of Voyager in the near future.
Currently you are working on yet another EP to be released in the not to distant future. What can you tell us about that?
So, Gnosis is the second album in the experimental series. It's actually the most metal and less experimental though, as it kind of turned into more traditional Spectral Lore material in the song structure aspect. The idea was to play oriental music with a metal instrumentation, without me particularly studying this music beforehand, but letting it out of my unconscious by invoking the idea of it (Greek folk music, as basically most of its traditional culture, is essentially a mix of European and oriental influences, actually leaning towards the latter -a fact that creates an interesting dissonance on the modern Greek, who sees himself/herself as culturally aligning with the West- so I already had a pretty good unconscious grasp of it), thus creating a kind of fusion, a new sound.
This brought forth the idea of synthesis, which is something that I explored lyrically from a variety of angles, from cultural (Gnosis as the union of individual and cultural knowledge) to mystical (the notion of the uniting of opposites and the emergence of higher levels of existence, in particular soul/consciousness in man, and possibilities of a global evolution of it). It has been an inspiring process. Gnosis is a peculiar album, not quite an EP (it's 49 minutes) and not quite a full-length, definitely not a regular album and not quite a totally experimental one. It stands in-between of everything, in a way.