Interview with Architeuthis Rex

by Diego Gerlach

Architeuthis Rex has a new two-track cassette out through My Dance The Skull, and they’re the sort of odd thing we tend to obsess over. It is also “one of the entities run by Antonio Blissland (who also makes noise as throuRoof/White Dwarf Spiral) and his girlfriend Jem Stravinskij – plus more assorted freaks/friends/collaborators around the world”

Their stuff is heady and menacing but also feels deeply, fucked-up-edly amniotic – no wonder they speak in terms of how “to plasmate the sound plastically”.

So how did you meet and where are you based now?

The project was born as a sort of open collective, but after we met in Florence one year ago, the improv sessions in 2 became one of the starting points to build our music. We now live in Berlin; after a summer around northern Europe we had to stop again in a “big dark city”… Berlin constantly gives us new inspirations and we like the idea of finding a small space for us here. We also now share a new project called MiawHaus that is more song orientated, shoegaze, and we are working on a forthcoming debut album at the moment,

Even in the songs that are not purely drone-y, there is this dark, looming vibe all over, an impression reinforced by the artwork you choose to associate your music with. What is it that makes drones so appealing to you?

We give a lot of importance to the visual side because both of us are visual artists too. We always like to interact with new artists and we had the luck to find people that really fit our idea of a sort of hypnagogic liquid world. Many of the sessions in “Dark as the Sea” are meant to be the sonic representation of the deep oceans’ Beast’s dreams that give the name to the project: The Beast nightmares about a strange, horrible creature called Man which always tries to capture it with weird machines and flashes. The Giant Squid was supposed to be an imaginary animal between the pages of every Crypto zoological Book, but some years ago it was caught alive in Australia. All the droney stuff comes from our fascination with the resonance as physical effect, we are really obsessed by every kind of resonance and we like to put that in evidence in our compositions and improvisations, using every instrument, strings, vocal chords etc in that way– there’s an inner resonance in the Universe, and we feel we’re a part of it.

Would you find it wrong to perceive your music as a sort of sonic interpretation of ‘evil’?

Evil? Why not… but the concept of Evil is closer to the one that people call the Giant Squid a Monster: who’s really a Monster, who’s really Evil? All these concepts are so relative… We like to think of our music as a sort of fake ethnic music of an imaginary tribe that lives under the water (or under our dreams). It’s simply a different world, not at all linked to the sensations of those on earth.

Being a music dummy (in an academic sense, anyway), I gotta ask: what kind of machinery and instruments do you use? If I had to guess I’d say ‘a cave and a wish to destroy the peace of your dreams’.

We use a lots of instruments, mostly strings: this choice is really connected to the resonance concept that we were trying to explain previously, but still, every means is permitted to obtain it. At the moment our set is reduced to the minimum due to the fact we’re moving to Berlin; so we are working especially with guitars, voices, an old synth, field recordings and percussion. The whole thing is processed in real time with some cheap effects, and then later we rework it digitally with an old laptop. In the new house in Berlin there is an old out of tune piano, and we have no doubts it’s going to enter one of the next sessions, and the challenge is for you to recognize it . By the way, eventually the means is not really important at all for us, because we like to shape the sound plastically, to find ourselves on the borderline between control and lack of control of the sound, like we’re, at times, letting the sound itself strike/guide us.

“Hypnagogic” is a word that has been thrown around a lot recently, and somehow seems to be crossing over into media other than music — what’s your take on it?

Well, this may be a rather abused concept, but it also explains the need that affects many people to escape from reality. We honestly don’t know what to say about that, because even if we are really into art in all its forms, we are not following the crowd and their trends. As for us, it’s a state that fascinates us both: it’s from this very same state and from the practice of the lucid dreams (intended to be like Jodorowsky) that we receive much of the input we then insert into the little world we’re trying to draw, step by step, in our releases.

Oh man. This is probably the fourth time someone has mentioned Jodorowsky to me this week. That’s rad. I can’t help it: what’s your favourite moment in a Jodorowsky movie?

We have two different answers [laughter]. Yeah, you will become a Jodorowsker yourself!

I dig his work in both cinema and comics and then I just watched the video for this new El Guincho song, and it’s totally a Jodorowsky-y trip.

We changed our mind, we like the same one:

Drone, ambient and other types of like-minded, far out music have a relatively large following these days – what do you think such a fact says about the day and age we live?

We honestly don’t know if it’s a decision consciously made by most people leaning towards this kind of music, but what we think is that it’s basically the need to find a fitting soundtrack for the searching of solitude, by which we mean a precious occasion to meet the deepest part of ourselves, to empty our minds from useless thoughts and to be creative.

I absolutely second that. Thanks a lot.

photo by District Fuhi