‘Sentiment’ Pre-Release Interview With Geir Larzen
3rd November 2014
‘Sentiment’ pre-release interview with Geir Larzen, editor of Norway Rock Magazine
Just for the record, what is the conceptual and musical difference between this solo project and The Autumn Ghost?
i’d say that pretty much everything is different this time around. with the Autumn Ghost albums, i’m always considering the other musicians, and writing to suit them, or leaving gaps that they can fill in. this time, i had responsibility for every single sound, which was a great freedom and a challenge that i loved. it forced me to think differently, and i feel i developed quite a lot in doing so. conceptually and lyrically, Kaukasus took things into a dark place, and this feels like quite a natural progression from that.
i’m a huge fan of Jon Brion and Jason Falkner, who also play all the instruments on their albums. something special happens in these situations — it’s the complete opposite of a band playing together, yet the way the instruments blend together is equally, if not more, fascinating. you can hear that the instruments work around each other like a jigsaw puzzle. the guitarist doesn’t have to think about where the drummer puts his fills, the bassist doesn’t have to think about where the drummer puts the kick drum — it all just locks together in a unique way, that only that one musician by himself can create. the level of detail in Brion and Falkner’s music is incredible, because they know exactly what’s happening, on every instrument, all the time. every note is so well considered. after i’d mixed ‘Sentiment’, i heard glimpses of that coming through, and that’s when i knew i was onto something.
‘Sentiment’ is probably your noisiest and darkest album so far. What happened?
i actually love noisy and dark music, but i just haven’t explored that side so much in my records to date. i’ve hinted towards it in some Autumn Ghost songs, especially on the second album ‘Dulcima’. the Kaukasus album also gets pretty heavy in places, but i really committed to making ‘Sentiment’ heavier than any of my previous albums. the main catalyst of this is the fuzz bass and guitar, which is prominent in most songs. i’ve always taken a more subtle approach to the intensity, using acoustic instruments to build the dynamics, so it was great fun to plug in and unleash some noise.
Since you’re playing all the instruments on the album, did you find the recording process especially challenging or lonely?
i was never lonely during the process, even though it took a long time. i can’t imagine being lonely in the studio. it was, however, a challenge. not so much the recording, which flowed very quickly, but the final stages — such as deciding on the final arrangements, removing unnecessary parts and trying to get the message through as concisely as i could, whilst retaining a rich palette of sounds — that took a lot of time to achieve. although i had complete freedom, that aspect also introduced a new level of pressure to the process.
There are lots of ways to be progressive. Your tonal language can be quite challenging and unorthodox, although beautiful. Are you conscious about this?
that’s very nice to hear. i think it’s difficult to be conscious about something like that, as that’s just how it comes out of me. when i’m writing and arranging, i don’t think too much about it — i trust myself enough to let the ideas flow, and i almost always stick to my original ideas. pretty much all of these songs were written, arranged and recorded, albeit basically, in about eight hours each. after that, it was just a case of gently refining the ideas, which took most of the time. i love unorthodox use of harmony, and discovering new ways to tie chords disparate together, using the melody as the thread.
The slightly ominous ‘The Seventh Face’ has been chosen as the album’s first single. Do tell about the video recording.
What is the seventh face, and who is it attached onto?
the seventh face is within all of us. it’s the face that shows us what we truly have, and give us the perspective that we sometimes need. the video was filmed in the forest close to where i live. we filmed it at dawn, so we could capture the atmosphere of the daybreak, and let the mystery and freshness help to personify the urgency of the song.