Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Recently I have been interested in the lesser highlighted aspects of what we typically refer to as the psychedelic experience; loneliness, regret, longing, emptiness. Like most things related to psychedelia, I find the expression in music to resonate the most. Not too long ago I wrote about Big Blood and their ability to capture the sense of uncertainty and yearning when an altered state (whatever the kind) has worn off. Perfectly timed with this reflection is my late discovery of another group that has been examining the tender and vulnerable aspects of psychedelia; Sore Eros.
Much recent psych-folk is communal, a sense of a shared experience inside the sacred grove. Sore Eros tends towards something a little more isolated, where even if there are other people grooving with the same spirits, we easily get locked inside our own psyche. What makes Sore Eros so remarkable is their ability to take this very personal space and craft it into something that feels familiar. This isn't solipsism by any means. It's about the ability to recognize that no matter how particular our own experience is, there is something that we all can recognize. Maybe it's sadness, maybe it's hope. I had no idea, in the moment, what the heck it was you were going through, but on the other side we can rest in the knowledge that no matter how personal, we were never really alone.
Sore Eros began as a bedroom-recording project by Robert Robinson, but is now a full outfit including Robert (guitar and vocals), Adam Langellotti (bass and keyboards), Jeff Morkeski (guitar), Matt Jugenheimer (drums) and Matt Brown (samples/snyths) with most of the songs written by Robinson and Langellotti.
They have a new album due out on Shdwply Records next month, and are currently working on an EP called Just Fuzz which will be out early 2011 on Blackburn Recordings.
--Listen to "Tounge Tied"--
Robinson was kind enough to answer a few questions about his music and underground music in general.
What are you listening to now, both current and past musicians/bands?
Adam [Langellotti] just bought this Alan Lomax record full of field recordings he made in the south during the late 50's. Its called "I'll Be Glad When the Sun Goes Down." We've been listening to that non-stop. It's so raw and soulful. We've also been listening to this German Folk singer named Sibylle Baier that was reissued a few years ago. We also been listening to a lot of classics like Magical Mystery Tour, Marvin Gay and the Velvet Underground. We played with Julian Lynch a few months ago, who gave me his new record, which I like that a lot.
Your music is often vaguely claustrophobic, but resonates in a universal way.
We try not to think too much about the music in the process of creating it. We usually do the initial tracks of a song in one or two takes, creating a very natural/intimate base to the song, which we will later craft and build melodies to... I do believe the inspiration comes from a greater power, greater then us and perhaps greater then the listener.
Psychedelic music has undergone an remarkable transformation from the sixties, which at its peak became something almost saccharin. What is it about the notion of psychedelic music that inspired so many musicians to want to re-invent it?
To me psychedelic music is always interesting because I feel its a movement in music that not only keeps trying to do new things, but also has elements to it that actually make me want to listen to it -- like melodies and hooks. I've never really been into hardcore music or "noise" music. Seeing an occasional live performance of something that drones forever can be moving, but for the most part I lose attention fairly quick. I like hooks, and I always try to create hooks in the music we are doing, no matter how weird or abstract a song may be come. Another thing about the evolution of psych music is the whole drug relation. I feel over time, it's not so much associated with taking drugs like it it used to be I think people can enjoy psyched out stuff totally sober.
Why do you think that, like you, more and more underground music is opting for melody over noise?
Underground music is always evolving. I think top 40 music is just so horrible these days. I don't even know if I can name a hit that came out with in the last few years. So maybe even underground musicians miss hearing good old fashioned melodies so they end up putting it into their music with out really realizing.
Why do you think esoteric and occult images and ideas have been so much a part of current underground music?
I think there is a part of everyone that loves something mysterious. Unfortunately mainstream music doesn't really explore(or should I say exploit that) much these days. When you start to tread in territories that aren't simple, safe or cut and dry then a certain risk gets involved. That's a risk that maybe only underground musicians are willing to take. What do they have to lose? If people get offended or if people don't like it, they can just restart a new band with a different name. But it seems most underground bands don't even care if people like it not, that's what makes underground music so interesting.
On a more personal level, I've always been a huge fan of mythology. I feel like it's been such an important part of life for thousands of years and will probably continue to be as long as humans continue to use their imaginations. I've been to Europe a few times and walking through ruins in Italy, churches in France or Castles in England, there is a chill that runs through my body. Maybe its the spirits passing through me, I don't know, but it's something embedded in me and I know it comes through in my music. Adam and I just moved into this old Mansion right outside of Northampton, MA. We built a recording studio in the attic and we are starting to record a new record. So far, this setting has been exactly what we've always wanted.
Nostalgia is another thing that plays into your music. What are you nostalgic for?
I'm always nostalgic for moments in life when things are simple, pure and when you are happy, which are mostly moments of childhood, or even trying to dig deep into your earliest memories. I was raised Catholic and I have really early memories of seeing this giant bearded guy hanging from a cross and bleeding above all these people in robes singing beautiful sounding songs. It gave me feelings of both fear and curiosity. I like those feelings and I certainly think those feelings play a role in my music.But the nostalgia can also run recent, like moments of when you are so much in love that you make stupid decisions that almost ruin your life.
There is a deep melancholy to your music, but it is woven with hope. Where does this hope come from for you?
Sometimes no matter how hard we try to write something up beat, a dark cloud seems to come over the writing/recording process. We are always conscious of this and try to counter with a pretty keyboard part or a baseline that totally has an opposite feel. I'm certainly not interested in making sad music. I would much rather make music that makes people happy and leaves you with a sense of hope. This hope comes from your heart.