Taking mental and spiritual journeys with music can be one of the most satisfying experiences one can have with music. At least I feel that way. Putting on a record and getting immersed in the sounds and ideas they’re trying to create is most rewarding. The ones that can spark that very experience every time you hear the album, no matter how many times you visit, are the ones that stick with me for the longest periods of time and become something like lifelong companions.
I’ve always been a major fan and supporter of Boise, Idaho, duo Wolvserpent, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Blake Green and violinist/drummer Brittany McConnell, from their early days as Pussygutt and into their transformation into Wolvserpent. Their second record under this moniker, the expansive, destructive, and lovely “Perigaea Antahkarana” is a total revelation, and even as someone who followed this band’s pathway, it threw me for a loop. Not that I didn’t think the band had this in them, because they always did. In fact, the hints of what was ahead were present and accounted for on their 2012 preview demo “Perigaea” that they offered as a free download. There, they revealed the early formations of the songs that would end up comprising this incredible new record, and it was clear from there they were operating on an entirely different plane as every other band out there doing the style of music they make. The final versions confirmed that.
Wolvserpent’s music is incredibly hard to describe to a newcomer, but to make it as simplistic as possible, they combine elements of doom, drone, sludge, post-metal, and woodsy folk, melding them perfectly, and blending the colors in a way where they make one shade, but you can still see the swirls. I urge you, if you haven’t experienced this band yet, do so now. Especially if you’re in the States and dealing with the wintry weather, put this on, open up your curtains, and stare off into nature while the music trickles all over you. And the only true way to absorb this record is to take on all 82 minutes without break. It’s a total picture and isn’t understood properly in small doses. Trust me, you’ll be better off for it. Blake Green graciously took time to answer our questions about the record, how they create their unique sound, and what the future holds for them. I know his words gave me some new introspection into their album and the band, and I’m thrilled to present his answers to you.
We are naming “Perigaea Antahkarana” our No. 2 metal album of the year. It is one of the most imaginative, immersive experiences of the year, and for a listener who loves to get lost in music and go on mental journeys, this record never fails to deliver. What were you trying to achieve philosophically and musically with this album?
Blake Green: Thank you so much. Really glad that you guys appreciate this work. Some of the positive responses to this album has been overwhelming! I think you kind of nailed it. It is an album for people who like to get lost in imagination, meditation, visions, and musical journeys. One of my favorite experiences listening to music is when I can go into the world created by the music and have an experience. Like the first time I heard (Stravinsky’s) “The Rite of Spring.” It’s not drone, it’s dream.
The process for creating the album obviously was arduous, first releasing a demo version of the tracks and then going back for rewrites. Do you ultimately feel satisfied with the end results? Anything you would do differently in hindsight?
BG: I do feel satisfied with the results. Honestly there are some things I would change. Small things like a lyric here and there. Maybe the way some of the mixing was handled. Isn’t that the way it always is? I try not to dwell on it. It just means that I have learned more for next time. I definitely could have used some more space between the album and early interviews. I feel like my picture of this piece gets clearer as I gain more distance from its creation.
This is your first release for Relapse. How did that relationship come about, and are you satisfied calling that label home?
BG: Our demo was sent to Relapse by a buddy, and they really liked what they heard. Everybody was on board to work with us. It’s cool as a music fan to see Relapse involved in something so weird and underground. Relapse has treated us well, and we have been happy to work with them. I think they have helped us reach some new people that enjoy our music, so yeah, it has been good.
Not many bands change names during their careers, but Wolvserpent did that, going from the Pussygutt moniker to your current name? What was behind that move? Was it a matter of having something more “socially acceptable” or did the moniker simply not fit anymore?
BG: When we named that band we were teens playing punk/noise/industrial music in Boise, Idaho, and never imagined that we would become serious about our music. We definitely wanted to redefine what we were doing as the music grew and we began to take our project more seriously. At a certain point it was an entirely different project.
Describe the musical relationship you two share. It feels like, from the musical alone, there is a very spiritual connection. What is your creation process like?
BG: The creation process varies, but collaboration is key. Often times the relationship seems like two pieces to a puzzle. Our different strengths really complement each other. The music we create is certainly unique to this relationship.
Singling out one track, “Within the Light of Fire” is one of the most impactful songs I have heard all year, and it never fails to blow me away. How do you feel about that track? Do you have a personal favorite, be it from playing live or just how the song has grown on you over time?
BG: I really like that track, and we were excited about starting a “drone” record off with that song. Really it doesn’t seem like we are playing drone or metal even at this point, so we wanted to come right out of the gate with this one and get rid of any preconceived notions. In that way it sets the tone for the rest of the record. Every song on this album is counterpoint to every other song. They only make complete sense when you listen all the way through. My current favorite song to play live is probably “In Mirrors of Water.” I really like the composition of that song and how it manages to avoid so many genres.
What does 2014 have in store for Wolvserpent? Touring? Planning any new music?
BG: We are taking a moment to regroup, but it seems that there will be a new EP and some shows in the future.
For more on the band, go here: http://wolvserpent.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.relapse.com/store.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/