We have a special treat for you with our first blog post for 2012. Salli Lunn’s masterful 2010 album Heresy and Rite gets a track by track exposition not only by the band but also by the man behind its stunning production, Jonas Munk (Manual, Causa Sui). This really is a wonderful window in to what is a very special album and also a lovely pre-cursor to the recently released A Frame of Reference which sees a selection of tracks from Heresy and Rite remixed and reworked by the likes of Scott Solter, Manual, Markus Mehr, City of Satellites and TV-Baby.
Continuing in our love of all things Salli Lunn we’re also giving away a CD copy of Heresy and Rite. All you have to do is send an email to contact [at] hiddenshoal.com with “Salli Lunn Giveaway” in the subject line. We’ll draw a winner at the end of January.
Note: Stream the album in full at the bottom of this post
#1 The Frame of Reference
SL: Though all of us come from different musical outlooks and take in different inspirations, we’ve always had the common interest in exploring rhythms as the musical takeoff. Right before we started the recordings this song wasn’t finished and it was therefore close to not making the final cut. The whole track basicly came together from the same rhythmic patterns and the moods it spawned. In the eleventh hour we luckily found the right balance between the repetitious structures and atmospheric arrangement and the outcome remains a favourite today.
JM: Probably not the easiest track to get into on the album. It was still very open when we started recording so it basically came together in the process of recording and mixing. I think it’s an interesting mix with the mood of the song being kinda cold and dark and the layers of drums and percussion having an ethnic, exotic kinda vibe. The band let me play around with the last instrumental part while mixing – very unusual for me to do something that noisy, but somehow this track demanded to be taken all out.
#2 Parachutes Forever
SL: The oldest song of the record and at the same time it’s most immediate pophook. It was written after a concert with Speaker Bite Me – an earlier Danish bandfavorite and source of inspiration back in the days. Their respective mixtures of noise and minimalistic pop-melodies left a certain, though not that obvious, mark on the composition. Jonas did very well in picking up the shoegazy tendencies and pulling them out of the cupboard both here and throughout the album.
JM: This song is so well put together. The instrumental part in the middle of the track is amazing. We wanted an atmospheric, shoegazy feel for this one while still emphasizing the punch and heaviness of the rhythm section. Generally we wanted a very natural sound for the album but still with a lot of layers and details in the mix, and I think this track is a good example of how nicely it worked out. It has the raw vibe of four people playing together in a room, but here and there some dubby echoes creep out of the soundscape. There are also synths and lots of guitar-overdubs in the mix but they weaved into the original framework very discretely and add a certain depth to it.
#3 The Invention of Steel
SL: Another track centered around repetitious patterns, but at the same time undergoing subtle musical developments creating these slowly building crescendos, which Jonas’ production really helped in shaping. The “intervening” parts separating the verse structures together with the noise sections are probably one way of enticing people to reference post rock when reviewing our music, but we’ve never really been trying to inhabit this set of musical idioms. For us it’s always just been about experimenting with the juxtaposition of different musical moods and movements.
JM: I love the guitars in this track – there’s a very nice interplay between what Lasse is doing in the right side of the stereofield and what Christian is doing in the left.
#4 Fast Cars, Clean Bodies
SL: In a hotchpotch of lyrical references this is the one proper love song of the album laid in a rewritten poem by William Carlos Williams. The film noir-narrative stages the progress of a relationship as a walk one late night. Compositionally, it is ironically also the heaviest track on the album with both postpunk- and stonerrock-aspirations, which in conclusion unites in a long descending spiral. Again Jonas did an amazing job producing and really brought out the sheer frightening cold of psychological mechanisms at play in the human spirit here.
JM: This is the first track I fell in love with back when they sent me some recordings from their rehearsals. I was definitely attracted to the Slint-like feel of it and wanted to maintain that aspect of the track in the album version. But where Slint’s guitars usually sounded very sharp and thin, we wanted the peaks in this track to sound earthy and heavy. I love Jan’s bassplaying – he has a style that reminds me a lot early/mid 1990s Chicago/Washington post-hardcore bands such as Jawbox, Unwound and Unsane. Very few people play bass like that anymore. I ran Lasse’s vocals through a small Fender amp to get that creepy lo-fi vocal sound.
#5 Mirror Girl
SL: Paradoxically this is a track that demanded us to play really tight but still letting go and play loose at the same time. Musically the song origins in a fascination of the French composer Olivier Messian’s use of, amongst others, octatonic scales coupled with the early noiserock of Blonde Redhead and 70s King Crimson.
JM: I think this track was the hardest one to nail. It has a super complex structure and it was tough getting each part right as well as keeping a logical continuity overall. The track has that wonderful 1990s northern US-vibe like the rest of the album but there’s also a prog-rock feel to it. The band references King Crimson but I would go all the way and say it sounds a bit like an indie-version of Tool. We used a Leslie/rotating speaker-effect on the vocals in the breakdown section, which works marvellously. To be perfectly honest, I got that idea from Korn’s 1999 hit “Freak on a Leash” – a guilty pleasure of mine.
SL: Belongings represents some of the more eerie and insidious sides of our songwriting placed in a short and compact format. Helping to bring out both the sinister and the pop-elements of the track was the coupling of both Lasse and Line’s vocals, which we hadn’t really tried before. This was also a tricky one to record because of all the skewed rhythmical shifts and we ended up using a take that featured an unintentional but really well-functioning transition near the ending.
SL: Probably the song with the most obvious Unwound-inspiration and at the same time the most uncompromising song among the bunch featuring propulsive drumming in 5/8, atonal guitar patterns, clusterchords and Lasse’s frenetic over-the-top screams. The ending is a favorite moment on the record; the sudden and very unnatural sounding complete silence came up coincidentally, but somehow it fits the intense and psychologically surreal mood of the song perfectly.
JM: This is probably the track where the post-hardcore influence is most apparent. I love the guitars in the outro – again I’m reminded of Jawbox. And Line plays some awesome drums. Great track.
#8 The First Cause
SL: With The First Cause we set out to merge swirling soundscapes with ongoing, almost floating rhythms and distinct melodies in the midst of it all. Taking place in this setting of speed, the song evolves around the relationship to the past and the journey as rite. With the ending reaching a near-transcending effect it seemed very appropriate to let the song be the final statement on the album.
JM: This track has a wonderful motoric groove from start to finish and the band manages to weave all the aspects of their sound into one homogenous piece. Again, there’s a lot of different sounds in this track, but it doesn’t sound too artificial or polished. It still sounds raw and natural even though there’s a lot going on in the soundscape all the time.