MIXTAPES: Ripple~Field

Following 2011’s Hypernebula, Ripple~Field’s new record Cyber Pulse Ultra is a conceptual piece inspired by dystopian sci-fi futures of cybernetics, transhumanism, hackers, and made-up swear words. The lyrics read like vivid diary-entries by paranoid fugitives and dreamers atop neon-lit tower blocks. For a record with a clear retro, cyberpunk flavour, the bulk of mastermind Aaron Kelley’s muses are drawn from those associated with technology. He cites videogame composers as a major influence, with games like Deus Ex handling themes of technology and humanity, as well as seminal electronic acts such as Yellow Magic Orchestra, whose optimistic outlook towards technology defined much of the extraordinary sounds that came out of the eighties. For his unique palette of geeky stimuli, I invited Kelley to curate a mixtape of songs that inspired his latest record.

Listen to the full playlist here, or check out the individual tracks below, with commentary from Kelley.

1. “The Synapse” by Alexander Brandon

“The works of Alex & Michiel van den Bos, who did the soundtracks for the first two Deus Ex games (also Unreal/Unreal Tournament, Age of Wonders, and others) were a driving force in getting me to make music from the very beginning.”

2. “Lonely Sunset” by Eve Tokimatsuri

“This song and this whole OVA inspired the vibe and aesthetic for this EP and helped fuel my enthusiasm to finish it.”

3. “Kai-Koh” by Yellow Magic Orchestra

“YMO make me strive to be a better musician and to make music that’s fresh and stand-out from other similar artists. Huge fan and I adore this song.”

4. “I Wish You” by Capsule

“More like … ‘I Wish I Could Make Catchy Dance Music As Well As Yasutaka Nakata, But Damn It, I Try’. His stuff, along with 80’s R&B and dance pop, inspired a chunk of this EP’s sound.”

5. “Ocean Drive” by Miami Nights 1984

“Best outrun electro artist I’ve ever heard next to College. Great melodies and vibes, part of the feel that I tried to reach with CPU.”

6. “Harem” by Matt Uelmen

“Replaying Diablo 2 fairly recently reminded me how much I loved Uelmen’s dark percussive intensity and the sample that he used in this track inspired me to dive into Hindustani Gamak singing styles. That lead to how I approached the last track on the EP.”

7. “Duke’s Travels” by Genesis

“Rutherford and Banks are always on my mind when I’m thinking about interesting, progressive, synth and guitar-heavy music compositions. These guys basically inspired all my instrumental noodling and Collins is one of my favorite pop vocalists.”

8. “My Fuckin’ Valentine” by BUCK-TICK

“BUCK-TICK are one of my favorite bands of all time and their electro period played a big part in the sound on this EP.”

Cyber Pulse Ultra is available now. 


CROSS SECTIONS: Planning For Burial’s “Leaving”, and the inevitable passing of loved ones.

Thom Wasluck’s grandfather knew he was going to die soon. This somber, reluctant recognition of the ephemeral moments in which we live was the inspiration behind the Pennsylvania native’s  solo brand of bleak, guitar-driven drone and noise soundscapes, as well as his acclaimed debut.

Cross Sections is a series which offers a track-by-track commentary on the cult records that are surrounded in as much mystique as the artists that created them. In this first instalment, I sat down with Wasluck for an insightful narration of his 2009 sleeper hit, Leaving.

“Wearing Sadness And Regret On Our Faces”

So, what was the writing process for the first track here, was it one of the earlier songs you wrote?

It was the earliest song for the record, or at least the one that made me think “I need to write a record around this one”.

So this is one of the earliest Planning For Burial tracks?

Not even close. I think this was started in late December 2006 but wasn’t started to be recorded until early 2007. I had been writing material under the name Planning For Burial since August 2005 that I’d let my friends listen to or just throw up on Myspace.

What did the earlier versions of this song sound like? Did it change much before being recorded for Leaving?

It wasn’t so much that were earlier versions, the basic foundation of the song from the start is the very same. I just added and subtracted things as I went along. From what I remember there was a slightly longer intro with a reversed guitar part but it didn’t do anything to really add to the song. The basic foundation was recorded in 2007 for this song and I was layering and mixing all the way through early 2009 at various stages.

Do the lyrics take you back to a certain event/person/time in your life?

It’s not clear to me now what was actually the catalyst for the lyrics themselves, but I remember sitting on my bed playing guitar and singing along to it. I think maybe I was disillusioned to a relationship I was in that had lasted for a few years longer after this than it should have.

Is that how a lot of the lyrics on Leaving came about? Just coming to you somewhere out of the ether based on some transient feeling at that time in your life?

Yeah, I would say so. Most of the songs are barely a line or two long that I just liked to repeat. The overall idea of Leaving became wanting the sound of everything to show exactly how I was feeling during that time period, and it wasn’t so much based on the lyrics.

“Memories You’ll Never Feel Again”

The next track I always thought was a weird odd one out in the Planning For Burial catalogue because of the odd waltzing rhythm it has. It sticks out a lot since your songs usually have a really slow, crawling tempo.

This one started how a lot of my songs start, which is walking around this house strumming my shitty acoustic. So I eventually I brought it to the electric and looped it, and would run over and play drums along to it. I like playing in 3/4 a lot but it doesn’t always happen within my music. This song was also finished over the course of a year or two just working on it little by little as time went on. There were parts of other solos for it that were “better”, but the overall performance wasn’t exactly right to the feeling, so I kept deleting and replaying it until I got the performance on the record.

Did you lay the groundwork for a lot of this material just by looping riffs like that?

On this record it was working out parts from loops and then figuring out transitions to next parts. It was mostly so I could play drums along to them and write other parts where I used to do that with a 4-track and need to have a lot of the base figured out so I could record it and then write other parts on top of it. Being able to play along to something I had just wrote on the spot felt a lot more organic, and I could work with stuff for a little before I tried getting it to the point of recording. Though a lot of the other little things and layers that happened throughout time came about the old way just playing a long to what was recorded and figuring it out.

This song’s always reminded me of that one Pg.99 song that’s in 3/4.

Oh, definitely. I think that’s where my love of 3/4 timing comes from.

“Oh Pennsylvania, Your Black Clouds Hang Low”

So what kind of records were you listening to when you were writing “Oh Pennsylvania”?

I’m not really sure. I think the song has the metal stuff, drone and noise elements. I was obviously listening to a lot of doom and more riff based stuff but again i think it came out of me just coming up with the riff and loving to play along to it on drums.

What about the latter half of the song? Did that just come about through usual kind of organic looping and writing?

Yeah, I knew it needed to have different parts so I wrote that separately, then got them to work together before recording it.

What kind of emotions or feelings were you trying to convey with this sound? I mean, obviously, there’s lots of screams and loud guitars so it can’t be very positive.

I think the feelings are more in the extra things going on. The somber plucked parts at the end, the “crying” type lead guitar, the organ chords on top of power chords on the guitar…

So, if the feelings are in the little instrumental details, what does the main “sound” of the song mean to you? like, where did that song come from when you were writing from it, emotionally?

Sometimes you just want to play loud heavy things. Just being young and still feeling some sort of angst and aggression.

“Humming Quietly”

“Humming Quietly”’s main ‘riff’ has a post-punky vibe to it. Like a Peter Hook-style bassline but transposed for a doomy guitar. It sounds like something from Closer.

This was the last song I wrote and recorded for the album, same with looping and then building within the recording program. I finished it only a few days before I sent it off to be mastered. There are earlier versions that are a lot more thinner-sounding. I added some underlying drone for the first half and just did little things to give the song more oomph.

You’ve only recently started playing this live, right?

Yeah, I’ve maybe only played the song live twice still because it’s about figuring out how to get everything to kick in and line up the way I want them too without playing to a pre-recorded song.

Is that a common issue you have with songs from this record? Since they’re a bit more “studio”, rather than the tracks from 2012 to Desideratum which are more suited to play live?

Exactly. These songs were written essentially the same way with use of loops to help me write, but then assembled. I never actually use loops when recording. Everything is played 100% live regardless if the part is repeated a million times

Must’ve been a pain when you were recording the 16 min closer to your last record.

You don’t even know.

“We Left Our Bodies With The Earth”

So what kind of effects were used on “We Left Our Bodies…”? It’s a very guitar-driven track, just straight up fuzzy drones, sort of like Earth 2.

Yeah, mostly fuzz, and a little bit of delay on the lead guitar part. This was actually heavily influenced by Old Man Gloom’s Christmas album

Trying to go for that crunchy Kurt Ballou sound?

It was more about the riff itself. The ending drone section was accidental, things got caught in a longer delay. I keep a lot of “happy accidents” in my songs. This stuff was recorded live, exactly how you hear it just trying for something and seeing what would come out. Obviously there were other layers added on, but there were no click tracks so it had to be done by feeling.

“Being A Teenager And The Awkwardness Of Backseat Sex”

So, “Being A Teenager…” has become a weird fan favourite in your discography, which is kind of strange for an 8 minute drone which is mostly repetition, why do you think that is?

Honestly not sure. I almost didn’t put it on the album. For whatever reason I just didn’t think it was a strong enough song at a time. I know I’m mistaken now. The little ending section was added awhile later. There’s a lot of stuff going on this song that’s super hidden too, there are sections of playing a tape recorder with myself talking saying “is this everything you’ve ever wanted out of life” and rewinding it quick for effect.

Any more little details like that hidden in the record?

The opening sound of “Oh Pennsylvania” and the end is my voice. But I think its easy to get caught up in repetition and let it wash over you and have subtle extra things build up. I have said to a friend in the past the ending is like what I would imagine some acoustic artist from the early 2000s would do if they layered shit and had their crowd singing along. I wasn’t going for that sound, but it’s how it worked it out.

You should start doing that at shows so people can sing along. Anyway, speaking of singing along, anything you want to say about the lyrics?

It was written around the time my girlfriend at the time’s father died. He died super suddenly, and it was more thinking about [how] there isn’t much to life. But the title of the song also plays in too, because I like to do things with double meanings. Instant gratification isn’t always that great.

“Seasons Change So Slowly”

The outro dialogue of this track is probably one of the most harrowing parts of the record. Could you explain the significance of it?

It was honestly something I found on PostSecret years and years ago, but it felt completely right. It reminded me of a story my grandfather told my father and I when he was dying (which this whole situation was what birthed the name “Planning For Burial”) about his brother, and how he had loved this woman he had dated, and he went away to war and came back, and she moved on and he never stopped loving her. That story has always crushed me, and maybe has shaped the way I think about some of the loves of my own life. So when I saw that, it had hit a chord within me and I knew I needed to use it somehow. The lyrics to the song are super simple too: “I think about you enough to know that it’s too much”.

Was there a particular record or producer’s sound that you had as a reference when recording Leaving?

No, not at all. I have said it a million times, my number-one love since I was at least 5 was always music. I had begun collecting music since I was about 10 and I listened to so many different styles that its hard to pinpoint. It’s a culmination of being a lifelong music addict.

So Planning For Burial’s sound has always felt super natural to you? Has its sound changed much since you started recording under that name?

Yeah, I think some of the earlier stuff may have been a little straightforward metal, but I was also working on some of the slower, more layered stuff too. But it was always a progression, even when I was a teenager playing in shitty metal and hardcore bands, I was sitting home by myself using a 4-track, recording weird songs.

“Verse Chorus Verse”

“Dress me in my best suit, I want to look good in my coffin”?

How you want to be remembered when you die.

Would you be proud to be remembered with these recordings when you pass away?

Yeah. It’s one of those records, to me at least, that after being so far removed from it and looking back after time and listening that I’m proud of. Something that could’ve only been recorded naturally and organically, making music for yourself because its just something you do, then getting lucky people caught on to it. I could, and will, never be able to make this record again in my life.

Even without the context of being the last “proper” song on the album, this song has a very final, dirge-like quality to it. Was it inspired by any particular incidents perhaps involving a passing? I mean, so much of the album seems to be inspired by the passage of time.

I was told a very close friend of mine from high school had passed away, and a few years earlier when I moved away to college, her boyfriend was killed in a car crash. The day she died I recorded this. I played it out, and once the real drone of it kicked in I just sat on my basement floor with my headphones on, letting the drone die out, and thought about them and how I’d never see them again. I always swore if I went to a high school reunion-type situation, it would be to see the two of them. People lose touch over time but it doesn’t mean their passings are any less significant.


So, the last track, is it just you on the organ? It feels like there isn’t any overdubs or anything, just a really natural, organic drone.

It was a synth into a few delays, recorded mono. No overdubs, nothing. The only reason it was recorded in mono was because I just set everything up super quick and needed to get it documented somehow.

Was there much of a writing process for this song, considering the immediacy of you wanting to “document” the sound?

Not at all. Maybe played it for a minute or two, stopped and got everything set up quickly, then went in, and then let a longer analog delay capture the ending drift.

Do you see it as more than just an “outro”, and more of an actual composition despite that? Usually intro and outro tracks can be more of an afterthought or a throwaway.

Yeah. Well it wasn’t a throwaway, but when I was listening back to the first sequences of the record it was helping me drift into sleep, And I kinda wanted the final track to take that idea home. So as an outro it felt natural.

Is that a common thing? Do you try to give your music an immersive quality that affects the listener in some way with your material?

I don’t really overthink my music too much. Again, it’s hard to think about Leaving, and what I was really feeling and thinking at the time. I was 22 when I started writing it, and I’m almost a decade removed from that person now. I didn’t have people asking questions about the album for many years after it was even released, so I never really had to think about it too much. It was a labor of love, because I was constantly working on it off and on for years without ever thinking anybody besides a friend or two would actually listen to it.

Leaving was originally released by Enemies List Home Recordings in 2009. It was repressed on 2xLP vinyl by The Flenser in June 2015. Purchase here.

Leaving is available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp.

Wake Up.

For the last couple of months I’ve been writing for Louder Than War. It’s been great. Very few publications allow you to write a feature on sexual exhibitionism in Japanese noise music for your first article. You can find more of the recent work I’ve done for them here.

I recently interviewed one of my favourite people, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, for Drunken Werewolf. The piece is included in the October issue, which should be released in the coming fortnight.

I’ve moved to Bristol. I’ve been in a bad state of mind for a while, but things are looking up, I think. Slowly.

I’ve been writing a lot more for the next Life In Slow Motion record. So far it sounds like the More soundtrack played by Elliott Smith.

My Mum’s been sending me photos of our cat every week. It’s enough to keep going on.

Pity Sex: “It’s a really exciting time for independent music right now.”

Ann Arbor, MI’s Pity Sex are a force driven by intimate personal ordeals. Each of their songs reads as a visceral account of a tumultuous episode in a person’s life, laced with too-close-to-home minutiae. Over a handful of records and a ferocious touring regime, Pity Sex deliver these cathartic accounts awash in emphatic, melodic noise and propelled by raucous bass and percussion. I sat down with vocalist/guitarist Brennan Greaves at their final UK tour date at the Louisiana, Bristol to chat about the band’s latent success in the indie rock underground.

How do you tend to handle the songwriting process when you come together as a band?

It’s very collaborative musically. Getting together at the spot, showing each other ideas and sometimes just messing around until we hear something that catches our attention. We all know when a song is working and when it isn’t.

Have you tried to make a conscious change in your sound over the course of the band’s lifetime? Like, between the demo and Feast of Love there’s definitely a kind of darker tone that you adopt in terms of the moods of the songs.

Conscious? No. Every time we come together to write for a new release we’re in completely different places in our lives, which reflects in the music we write. I think it’s more learning to trust our instincts and find solace in the fact that as long as we’re genuine about our output, it will be progressive.

What kind of stuff are you listening to right now while you’re on the road?

Spotify just cancelled my account due to non-payment, so it’s mostly been BBC radio and whatever our fill in bassist has on his phone. A lot of top 40 pop and RnB.

You’ve just dropped a couple of tracks from a new project with Sean called Senpai. What was the impetus for launching this project?

Four Ann Arbor buds who have a long musical history together and wanted to try something new. Chris, formerly of the band Brave Bird, started writing some amazing songs and asked if Sean, Jorma, and I would help flesh things out. We’re very excited to see where this band can go.

You’ve done splits with Brave Bird and Adventures, any plans for any future split records or collaborations with other artists?

No plans right now but there’s plenty of bands/artists I would love to work collaboratively with in the future.

Do you think indie rock is oversaturated as a genre? Do you stand with the criticism that it suffers from too many rehashes of late ’80s and ’90s bands?

Honestly it’s a really exciting time for independent music right now. I look around at my peers and I see them doing amazing things completely on their own terms. The real criticism should be on music media writing in a narrow and reductive way. Instead of focusing on how bands are creatively blending their influences with what it means to be a musician in this day and age, they throw a bucket full of weak legacy act comparisons at the page, pat themselves on the back, and call it a day.

Pity Sex’s Feast Of Love is out now on Run For Cover Records.

INTERVIEW: Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum

This feature was first published in Weightless in May 2013.

Phil W. Elverum is the mastermind behind lo-fi folk projects Mount Eerie and The Microphones. Known for his uniquely stripped-down songwriting and instrumentation and tapestry-turning lyrical imagery, Elverum’s works bridge the gap between the natural and the modern world with dense drone passages and somber acoustic guitars, revealing a path covered in autumn leaves and bathed in spectral moonlight. Elverum graciously took the time to speak with us about his music, his writing, lo-fi recording, unknown music and his plans for the future.

You’re here playing tonight at the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff, how’s the tour going so far?

The tour’s great. It’s been very fun. We’ve been in Europe for 13 shows in the north mostly- Scandinavia, Norway, which I love. We had a lot of Norway shows, as well as Finland, Denmark, it’s very nice. Yeah, the shows are really fun. I have this band that’s new and special for this tour only and it’s very fun to play the music like this.

You released two albums last year, Clear Moon and Ocean Roar. What inspired their creation, since they’re probably the two most diverse Mount Eerie albums so far.

I’m not sure what inspired them. I was just kind of freestyling and experimenting a lot and making myself as open as possible to ideas and giving myself a lot of time. It was about two years of recording, two years of that kind of experimentation that generated all that stuff.

Do you feel they should be appreciated more as a double album or two separate pieces, or is it just a coincidence that they happened to be released in the same year?

No, no, it’s not a coincidence. They’re meant to be together, but they’re also meant to not be a double album, they’re meant to be two things that are related.

Like two sides of the same coin?

Kind of. But maybe not even that closely related. Like, not even the same coin. Like two coins next to each other. I just thought it was more interesting that way, it opened up a whole lot more aesthetic things that I could do, playing with the relations of things and contrasts and stuff.

In the past with albums like Wind’s Poem you’ve experimented with genres like black metal, others have been more withdrawn like Lost Wisdom and Dawn, now you’ve experimented with ambient and post-punk; where does Mount Eerie go from here?

I don’t know. I’m not trying to do a little of everything, that’s not my goal. I know it’s happening, but I’m trying to make a cohesive body of work, like when I die I want to be able to look back and see a thread through all my work, and I can see that, I’m happy with what I’ve done. It’s not a goal of mine to ‘keep them guessing’, I’m not going to do a jazz album or a hip-hop album next, but at the same time I’m open to inspiration from whatever form it takes.

Does that cohesion stretch all the way back to The Microphones?

Yeah, I think so! It’s all part of the same lineage, the same stream. I mean, it’s me, I made all this stuff so it’s linked. But in terms of intentionality in that linkage, I don’t know. I mean, who has the same intentions from when they’re eighteen to when they’re thirty-five?

Lots of your works have very strong imagery, in both the artwork and the lyrics; do you feel music should always have a visual accompaniment?

I do think that, but I think it’s more because of my generation or my age. My introduction to music was in a time when music existed as physical objects that you buy, that have by necessity a visual component, so to me that’s necessary. I don’t think that’s a fact anymore in the world we live in, music can be a minute long and have no visuals, or it could be a video or it could be a videogame. We live in weird times. For me in a lot of ways I’m a traditionalist, I want to make an album, I want to make a collection of sounds that’s forty minutes long and has a picture or a couple of pictures that go with them that help paint a picture of the music and create a more permeable world.

And that carries over to the physical releases as well.

Exactly. My way of thinking about making art and music is still very linked to the physical object. I want to make music that sounds good as music that can be a downloadable, ephemeral  digital file, but I feel that having the music as a record with the pictures and the booklet and some stuff, it’s almost an invitation to go deeper into the music, if you want to.

What do you think is the appeal behind lo-fi and home recording?

I don’t know. I record myself, I don’t record in quote unquote “real studios” but I’ve always done it that way. I never however had any intention to make it sound lo-fi, I’ve always done the best job I can to make it sound as good as possible, but at the same time I’m not interested in making things sound perfect, or how they’re supposed to. There’s a lot of possibilities with recording; when recording a drum set you can make it sound crazy! So I guess that comes off at sounding lo-fi or immaturistic, but there’s a lot of thought and planning going into it, and intention.

Tell us about Fancy People Adventures.

I started drawing cartoons with my little brother and my friends forever ago, everyone does that- well maybe not everyone, but we started drawing cartoons to house jokes just to document them, and we just kept doing it, then I made a zine, then I made a website, and there you go.

Fair enough. Do you have anything else planned for 2013 after the tour?

I’m putting on a festival in my hometown of Anacortes, it’s called the Anacortes Unknown Music Series, we do it every year, sometimes more than once a year, and this will be the twelfth year in a row. It’s in July, so I’ll have to work on that.

Will that just features P. W. Elverum & Sun artists or…?

No, no. I mean, I will play, Mount Eerie will play but it’s friends, and also people we don’t known yet. Unknown Music Series is the name, so it’s not cool stuff [laughs], hopefully things that will become cool later.

The more unknown the better!

Yeah! But it’s a small town, so there’s not like there’s a hub of cool people hanging around doing cool things, so we’re just a bunch of nerds entertaining each other. [laughs]

Thank you for speaking with us, Phil! Do you have anything you’d like to extend to our readers?

Hello. [laughs]

And finally, do you believe in ghosts?

No, I don’t think so. I don’t believe in anything except the physical world and even then probably not.

INTERVIEW: The Haxan Cloak

This feature was first published in Weightless in November 2013.

Eerily dense and hauntingly foreboding, The Haxan Cloak’s uniquely cinematic blend of dark ambient and noise has been crushing venues and unearthing the supernatural across the UK at the head of his 2013 tour of Europe. The Cloak was gracious enough to take time to speak with us before his Bristol show about his new LP ‘Excavation’, his recording process, and what music means to him.

You’ve just been playing at here at The Exchange with Eraas and Necro Deathmort, what else have you got planned for your tour?

Pretty much more of the same, but this is only the third gig into the new tour, so right now I’m just tweaking it and making it more physical. Just making it louder… better. [laughs]

Louder is always better! You’re also playing with Mount Eerie in Brussels later on in the tour.

Yes, I’m definitely looking forward to that! That’s on Thursday the 16th.

So, Excavation’s been getting some fantastic reviews, how have you been responding to that?

Pretty much in very quite awe. I was shocked at the response that my first album had, I never expected my second to even match up to that, and this one’s done maybe fifty times better. So the fact that I can come and play a gig where more than ten people will come is pretty cool for me.

I’m sure you have Pitchfork to thank for that.

[laughs] Yep. Thanks, Brandon.

On Excavation your music has been much more cinematic than on your previous release, do you owe that to any particular influences, perhaps Atrium Carceri or Lustmord?

No, not really. The artists I was listening to while making Excavation was pretty similar to the ones I was on the first record. But when I make music it’s more about restraint, it can be very hard to restrain your ideas, at least in my experience. With the first record I had a very distinct thing I wanted to accomplish, so I was stripping away all the layers back to get that, and with this one it’s more like, not necessarily ideas I couldn’t include on the first album, but showcasing a different side of my music, and also there’s a pretty distinct concept running through the record. Though I do like all the people you just mentioned.

How do you feel about the way ambient artists are often perceived as very mysterious or enigmatic by the music press? Do you feel you need to adhere to a certain type of image that reflects your music?

I don’t feel like I do because that’s not the way I was brought up to think about music. I mean when I first started making music when I was a teenager, I was in the DIY punk scene in my town, so that was very un-pretentious. Not that keeping your identity a secret is pretentious, but how so many people do it these days it’s become more of a gimmick, and there’s not many gimmicks about what I do, because, like, I don’t want to do anything else apart from this; I’ve always said that this kind of music is about honesty, really,  and a clear channel of perception between what’s going in in your life and what’s going on in your brain and what comes out. There’s no point masking that in the stream of bullshit that can come with it.

There’s already a few myths surrounding the recording of Excavation, namely how you supposedly sealed yourself away without sleep or food for days during the making of it. Was it really that extreme? How was Excavation recorded?

[laughs] I mean- it’s extreme, I’m a workaholic when it comes to my music. Many things suffered, my relationship suffered, my sanity suffered, but it wasn’t as extreme as locking myself away like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. If I’ve got something I want to say, that I want to do, I’ll stop at nothing to get it done. Music means everything to me and there’s nothing more important in my life, so why shouldn’t I just go balls deep?

Lots of your other ambient contemporaries have been drawn to more lavish recording processes, Tim Hecker’s last album was recorded at a church in Reykjavík, which is a big contrast to your home setup. How do you feel about home recording, it’s advantages and disadvantages as an artist?

I don’t think there’s any real advantages apart from recording in a place where you feel comfortable. You want to record in a place where you feel comfortable, it’s easier to record in a place where you don’t feel, say, the monetary stresses of working in a studio. But as for advantages, if you’ve made a record like I’ve just made you don’t want to go to sleep and wake up in the same room where all that energy’s been pumped out. So it would be nice to have a studio at some point. There’s more disadvantages than there are advantages, that’s for sure.

You said before the show you had use of a full studio during the recording process, tell us about that.

Yeah, I was given a recording studio for a week by the Britain Peer’s Foundation in Suffolk, in a little village called Snape. It was through the estate of Benjamin Britten, and they gave me a studio for a week to just record whatever the hell I wanted. They had a multitude of pretty much every orchestral instrument you could ever imagine, so I spent a week being a kid in a sweetshop basically. I had some timpani, big orchestral bass drums, ’The Mirror Reflecting (Part 1)’ is in fact just some huge eight-foot gong I had recorded in a room for a day and just pitch-shifted and processed and did various things with.

Are you ever going to release your Sunn O))) remix?

Oh, on the Resident Advisor mix? Err, probably not. Maybe. If I could coerce Stephen into saying yes. But I doubt that. [laughs]

Sunn O))) could do a split with The Haxan Cloak, you never know.

I’d have to convince Stephen with some nice wine.

Thank you for speaking with us! Do you have any words you’d like to extend to our readers?

Well, thanks for giving a shit, basically. Cheers!

The Haxan Cloak’s ‘Excavation’ is available now from Tri Angle Records. Make sure to catch him on tour if you get the chance!

INTERVIEW: Planning For Burial

This feature was first published in Weightless in December 2012. 


Within the walls of Enemies List Home Recordings house some of the most enigmatic artists of today, producing equally strange, provocative and honest music. Among the ranks of projects such as Have A Nice Life, Afterlives and Giles Corey stands the wistful drones of Planning For Burial.

Mixing elements of shoegaze, drone, slowcore and post-metal, gliding synths evoke feelings of woeful nostalgia, while thick guitars construct impenetrable walls of regret and desolation. Thom Wasluck, the mastermind behind the one-man project, graciously took the time to talk to us about his music, the past, present and future.

Tell us about Planning For Burial. How did it come about? Did you have any previous musical endeavours that led up to it? 

At this point Planning For Burial has been going for almost 7 years as a recording entity though I never really let it out into the world until 4 years ago, and over the past two years I have focused more on playing live. I don’t believe it ever really started with a purpose besides it’s something I have been doing since I was a teenager recording late at night with my first 4 track cassette recorder.

The name of the project is rather poignant, and a pretty good representation of the music itself, what made you choose the name “Planning For Burial”?

The name was inspired by watching my grandfather become suddenly ill after my grandmothers death, watching a man I thought my whole life was emotionless just disintegrate without his love and how brutal it must be to know full well you are dying, making the arrangements, telling your son and grandson family secrets or just stories he hadn’t told in years, spending time with loved one, trying to get it all in before you go.

What kind of bands and musicians influence your music? Is it mostly drawn from shoegaze and drone artists, or something a little different?

I have always had a thing for melodies or music that feels warm and sad at the same time.  I know it’s cliché to say but I really believe my influences span almost three decades worth of constant music consumption, the music my parents played around me as a child, the music I found as pre-teen and in my teenage years through my twenties, my musical taste is become pretty vast.

Any particular artists, old and new, you’re enjoying at the moment?

Lately all I seem to listen to is Unwound’s “Leaves Turn Inside Of You”, anything Chelsea Wolfe, and “Treasure” & “Heaven or Las Vegas” by Cocteau Twins

Since the release of ‘Leaving’, you’ve put out a fair few EPs moving the Planning For Burial sound in a quieter, more meditative direction. What influenced this decision, and what will the sound evolve to in the future?

I think as far the EPs go they have taken that direction because some of them have been recorded spontaneously utilizing no overdubbing just throw a few mics up and hit record, I felt like in the last year I needed to get immediate feelings out rather than let them build. I’m not sure of the way it will evolve, because I also see two sides of what I am doing their is the quieter stuff but the live shows are have taken a much louder heavier tone.

You play a lot of shows each year, and have just finished your first few shows in Europe and the UK. What are your thoughts on touring?
 What’s it like to perform your music in a live setting? 

A lot of what I do is based on my feelings at any given time, and I seem to be getting more out of playing live than I have from recording lately.

What are your thoughts on home recording in music? 

Music should be about feeling, doing things and recording exactly when you feel them, not about setting up in some lavish studio for a set time frame, though that also has its advantages as well.

You have a new release coming out soon, a reissue of ‘Quietly’ on the prolific Enemies List Home Recordings label. Tell us about that.

It now contains all the songs that were written at the time that for sequencing purposes wouldn’t work correctly on the cassette format, it also contains songs from a limited cassette release called “Reminder” and some other unreleased tracks. Everything has been remastered, and the artwork has been reformatted by Niels Geybels for a bigger layout.

What have you got planned for 2013?

I have 4 different split releases across 4 different labels, I will finally record the written 2nd full length (though I can’t promise that one), there are some small weekend dates planned for early in the year and the possibility of relocating across the ocean.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Thom! Any closing words for our readers?

I’m just thankful for anyone that has given this project any time at all, I have been able to do some pretty incredible things with my life because of it and have met some amazing people as well.

Planning For Burial’s ‘Quietly’ will be reissued in early 2013 by Enemies List Home Recordings. In the meantime, listen and support via bandcamp, or catch him on tour!