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Foreboding Perscussion Sythscapes
by: Dave Cromwell - January 8, 2013


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"Black House"leads off Brooklyn band Eraas' self-titled album with an under two-minute instrumental of sustained textures. The track starts out mysteriously pensive, but ultimately transforms to a more dark and foreboding mood. This unsettling feeling is a theme that runs throughout the whole album. Vocals are delivered in hushed cadences. The rise and ebb of percussive pulses and sustained sound washes create tension and anticipation.

The sound quality of the entire recording makes for a wonderful headphone listening experience. What did you use to create the sonic textures on the opening track "Black House?" Was it a difficult, labored recording process? Or did the tracks and ideas come together relatively quickly?

Thanks. Yeah that track is actually some bits of viola, violin and cello and some other things mixed in. Wind chimes in a strong wind. I think the landscape from Days Of Heaven was in mind for that track. The recording process was fairly labored, though I don't want to sensationalize it as bands often do. Bands love to say "Making this record was a nightmare" or amp up the fact that it was really difficult. We love the process and won't release the result til we're happy with it. A lot of work went into writing and recording ERAAS, but it was quite rewarding actually. A lot of it was about discovery and chance. I think it's important to be as specific as one feels necessary in order to execute something to their intention, but it's also bad to get caught up in analyzing things too much. I feel that more than 50% of the time "first thought - best thought" applies.

What inspires the design of a track like "A Presence?" Do you create it with cinematic thoughts in mind?

I think this song has a "repetition as a form of change" vibe in mind, though it's not too repetitive on the whole, more the bass and drums in it that are after that. It was created, as most of this album was, with as you put it "cinematic thoughts in mind" - I think music is really visual for us, so whenever we're working on stuff it's less focused on the machinations of the elements than it is on the overall mood that we're trying to create. When we make music we're really just focused on creating a mood.

There is an impression given at points within your song"At Heart" that sound like oil rigs clanging off in the distance. While rolling tom tom percussion create a feeling not dissimilar to the seminal work of Kate Bush and her groundbreaking "Hounds of Love" album, in particular the track "Running Up That Hill." What is it about the mood created by atmospheric washes and rolling percussion that appeals to you? Do you feel this kind of listening experience creates a time shift in ones perception?

Interesting comment on the oil rigs, and arguably more interesting about Kate Bush. We did not have that in mind at all. I'm not really sure we were thinking about a time shift in one's perception. But I will say that the atmospheric washes as you described did inform the rest of the song. It was started by recording chimes on a tape recorder that weighs about 8 lbs - then recording the warbled playback of that through a mic and manipulating it. That set the tone for the song and we built the rest of it around that sample. Vocals were last.

Your track "Ghost"evokes thoughts of spiritual forces that have been with humanity since the very beginning. Who or what are the ghosts that impact your life?

I guess memories, nostalgia, romanticizing the past as well as the future - and decidedly *not* romanticizing the past or the future. The song is actually more political/social than anything regarding the direct relationship one has with a ghost or ghosts from their past/present. The first line is "Down the stairs of broken hope while torches light the big wall.." - it resolves into a destructive force that comes to aid in an unjust situation.

The lyrics for "Briar Path"emerge by way of high/low vocal tandem, contributing to a sense of mystery and wonder. It's more likely that the "briar"referenced is less about tangled plantlife, but instead suggests a difficult place or problem - a prickly situation in life. Would this be a more accurate interpretation? What else can you tell us about this song?

For Briar Path the idea was about escape. Someone escaping something adverse to them - not necessarily a person or a force, but a situation. It addresses the idea of not living up to your peers, falling short of rites of passage that are often bullshit anyway, but still you feel a bit of pressure. Trying to sort that out. Or just falling short of one's own expectations, trying to understand why you keep turning up empty no matter how often you try to surpass it.

A number of the shorter, percussion emphasized ambient tracks like "Moon"and "Crosscut"hearken back to Brian Eno's seminal recording "Another Green World." Did that record, or any following that one (which may have been influenced by it) provide inspiration for you to choose this particular path of writing and recording?

I'm a pretty big Stars Of The Lid fan but actually Austin did "Moon" on his own. Of course Eno is arguably the pioneer of ambient music and I have great respect for him, but again I think that track is just about something visual, a mood. It's brief and acts as a sort of palette cleanse or moment to step out of things before "Briar Path" begins. Never thought of "Another Green World" in relationship to anything I've done. Perhaps something more like "Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks" that Eno did with Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois. "Crosscut" is more influenced by contemporary electronic music. Simply acts as a hybrid of the drums in "Briar Path" and "Fang" that allows them to go together.



what it is

Dark, atmospheric, percussive, electronic.