What I think about RASALHAGUE full length debut, I already wrote here. It’s in Polish, but here’s a short résumé in case you don’t understand my beautiful language: The album is simply amazing. So I guess, the interview with Kerry Braud on Santa Sangre was just a matter of time. And here it is. Enjoy. And if you don’t know “Rage…” yet, just listen to it. Below you can also find a trailer for the album.
RASALHAGUE is an astronomical term (the brightest star in the constellation Ophiuchus). Yet the concept of your album is pretty far from stellar voyages, exploring new universes etc. Why did you chose this name for your project?
The name Rasalhague has more of an esoteric meaning to me personally. In astrology, constellations make up the twelve signs of the zodiac. Nostradamus, in his book “Les Prophéties” (The Prophecies), spoke of a 13th zodiac sign (Ophiuchus) that lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius. The constellation Ophiuchus is represented as a man grasping a snake (Serpens). Rasalhague is the head aspect of that star cluster. Plus, 13 is embraced as a sacred number fundamental to certain traditions and esoteric beliefs, because it reflected characteristics that could be seen to exist in man, nature, and the heavens. Even the moon revolves 13 times around the Earth.
Before “Rage Inside Your Window” you released miniCD “Theories Behind Chaos”. It was self-released – what was the reason of such decision (I don’t believe than you couldn’t find a label willing to release it)? Or perhaps you treat this material more like a promo for people and labels that they should pay attention on your new project?
My decision to self-release the miniCD was one based purely on creativity and exploration. I was letting the creativity direct my actions without having a preconceived idea of how the end result should be, but more of how the process would be. Having people or labels notice the project is a major bonus, but I guess I am more addicted to the creative process itself. To create something from nothing is a very powerful feeling. It is the most purest essence of the universe.
I’m lucky to have this miniCD in my collection – honestly speaking it’s not bad, but there is a huge gap between “Theories…” and “Rage Inside The Window”, which is much more crafted and rich in sounds and atmospheres. How do you find music on “Theories…” today?
First, I must thank you for having the miniCD in your personal collection. It means a lot to know that people are welling to support many independent projects and labels in this music genre. I still embrace “Theories…” as an amazing stepping stone today, but I am always looking ahead for the next wave of inspiration. I would never want to revisit “Theories…” by remixing or remastering the album because it is perfect with all the rawness and imperfections. Why try to change all the original energy that went into the creative process.
The full-length debut, “Rage Inside The Window” was released by known and respected Malignant Records. Was Jason simply first to grab hands on your music or were there any other options where this material could be released?
Yes, Jason was the first label that was interested in the album as well as the miniCD. There were two other labels that showed interested, but Malignant Records seemed like the better choice since I am a personal fan of the label. Plus, being part of the Malignant Records artist list was a major part of that decision.
Could you enclose this tragic and horrifying story behind “Rage Inside The Window”?
I was watching an evening program on television when I became aware of this nightmarish story. The neglect and inattention that this little girl experienced was so damaging that she had no form of communication whatsoever. She became a true feral being devoid of basic social skills which are normally learned in the process of enculturation. The damage was so severe, that this young girls IQ is below 50, which indicates “severe mental retardation.”
The environmental condition in the house was also in a neglected state. It was filled with urine and feces (both animal and human) that was smeared on the walls and mashed into the carpet. The floor, ceiling, and walls seemed to move beneath hordes of scurrying cockroaches. “It sounded like you were walking on eggshells. You couldn’t take a step without crunching on cockroaches,” the detective said. He even commented that he has been in rooms with dead bodies rotting there for a week and it never smelled that bad.
This story can really make you re-examine your life.
Describing your music as an ‘entertainment’ would be rather awkward. What kind of reactions you expect from the listener with “Rage…”?
I would expect the listeners to feel the anxiety, uneasiness, and torment of how life may have unfolded for this neglected child. The music should make you feel uncomfortable to a certain point, but hopefully not lose you completely to the harshness of emotions.
I started my review of “Rage…” with the words that most of ambient musicians try to avoid such “down-to-earth” subjects, preferring an escape into dreams, nature, spirituality or misticism. Or, generally speaking, escape in dark, and rather “humanless” atmospheres. Would you agree? What was the reason of chosing such concept for your debut album?
To a great degree, I can see why ambient musicians try to stay in the realm of other worlds. Since our physical world is filled with so many human flaws, such as hatred, greed and violence, I can understand why ambient musicians would rather explore the macrocosm of the universe.
Regarding the concept for the album, I feel the concept chose me. I was propelled by intense inspiration to work on the album once I was exposed to the hellish story.
The story behind “Rage…” reminds me of Jack Ketchum novels where he also talks about hidden horrors in seemingly “normal” American families. Do you know his books?
No. Unfortunately I do not, but I guess I now have a reading direction to investigate. I am more of a non-fiction information addict which makes up most of my reading.
Malignant compares RASALHAGUE music to Raison d’Etre and Atrium Carceri. Honestly speaking I don’t see much resemblance to those projects… Well, maybe a slight touch of Raison from “Metamorphyses” era is noticeable, but that’s it. I wonder if you agree with such comparisons. Perhaps you were influenced by other projects?
To be compared with those artist is a great feeling, but I am a bit unsure about the comparison. Peter Andersson and Simon Heath are very talented individuals who have laid a strong foundation and inspired many other projects in the dark ambient music scene. I am a fan of both projects, but I do not feel that they influence my music exclusively. I strive to let my internal creativity guide my desire to create something unique.
What kind of equipment did you use during recording “Rage Inside Your Window”?
I did some analog tape recordings for some sounds and the rest were digital altered. Unfortunately, I am not well equipped as some of the other projects out there, but I try to maximize the minimal equipment that I do have.
From time to time there are some male voice samples used on the album. Whose voice is that?
I managed to record the actual voices of the mother, detective and girl from the documentary. I then manipulated the voices using software. Instead of using some random voices that had no connection to the story whatsoever, I wanted to use real spoken words from the actual individuals.
United States, land of opportunities, where every dream can come true? Or rather police state, the nation willing to control the world, cult of firearms and easy access to it? Are you unconditionally proud to be an American?
I try not to buy into any type of propaganda or indoctrination without first questioning the intention of the source. The American dream is one that is fueled by money driven motives and emotions which only deadens higher levels of being. Think of how weak a person must be to let a little piece of fancy colored paper control their life completely. I know I can fall prey to the social disease of economical frustration. Why do we give away our power to this piece of paper? At least I can say that I am aware of this instead of living blind to the fact.
Everything must be questioned first. If you feel in your heart that the info is honestly truthful, then you can follow it to a certain point. You should never follow any information as absolution.
“Believe nothing, no matter who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and own common sense.” –Buddha
What’s your opinion about netlabels and free distributing of the music? In my opinion artist should be paid for their work, don’t you think?
I think that any artist should be compensated for their creativity, but compensation or payment is a very broad term in the higher sense of things. You can be compensated by peoples admiration and love or by acquiring physical talismans such as money. It just depends on how the artist wants to be satisfied. Giving music to the world can bring long term internal satisfaction that no amount of money can ever give. After all, money is a man made object that has a value because we allow someone to say that it does.
Will the concept of another album be also about dark sides of human soul or will you take some completely different direction?
Most likely it will be a different direction. I would never what to stay locked into one kind of conceptual area. That would only lead to a stagnation in creativity.
I’d like to ask you about an album, a movie and a book which made the greatest impression on you in 2011.
In 2011, the album I that I really enjoyed the most was Psychomanteum “Oneironaut” which was really an amazing release.
I enjoy watching documentaries, so I must give the best 2 videos that I saw last year. “Kymatica” and “The Mindscape of Alan Moore”. Both videos are really informative and interesting if you want to expand your mind.
I read newsletters and magazines more than I do books, but one good book to read is Zecharia Sitchin “The 12th Planet”. A great read that must be skeptically questioned while staying open minded enough to see the possibilities.
Are you involved in any other musical projects?
Yes, I have been working on a few projects. A collaboration album with Thibaud (Collapsar) was finished last year, but the package design has not been completed. Also, I will be appearing on a 4-way split album by the Kalpamantra label. Hopefully it will be released some time this year. Also, another collaboration album is in the works, so that might take some time to release as well.
When can we expect another RASALHAGUE album?
I would like to release another Rasalhague album, but I have not started on one yet. Too many other things are taking up my time at the present moment. When everything settles down a bit, then maybe I can focus on the next album.
That would be it. Thank you Kerry, last words are yours.
If you like the independent music scene, please try to support your favorite artist, project or label. That way they can continue to release music that is often overlooked by the mainstream media. Keep the creativity flowing!