To celebrate the release of their stunning 9/10 album Carrion Skies (Code666 – review here) The Watcher, guitarist and vocalist of England’s atmospheric post-Black Metal band Fen spoke to Ghost Cult on a range of subjects. In the second of four parts, with a further feature to follow in the next Ghost Cult digimag, the discussion turned to changes in the consumption of music…
The music of Fen inspires a sense of other, and your music is something where, as a listener, you become immersed in the music – it serves to take you away…
“Immersion and escapism… I don’t they are dirty words. People listen to music for a variety of reasons and one of those is to take yourself away from the day to day for a little bit, you can take yourself to another world. And if you’re writing 12 minute long songs with lots of guitar textures, it’s something you’d hope the music would do for the listener. I don’t want to be writing background, I don’t want to be writing backgrounds to somebody’s trip to the shops.”
But isn’t that how a lot of music is consumed now? Listened to ipod shuffle. It’s become the death of the “album”, the rise of youtube, Spotify and playlists, and of flicking from one band to another. I saw the other day Skid Row saying that they are no longer going to do albums, because no one listens to albums, (though maybe that’s because no one listens to their albums any more…)
I still listen to the first the two Skid Row albums quite regularly…!
Absolutely, the first two albums are awesome! But bearing in mind what they’re saying, and you get acts like TRC too, who say they just do EPs or singles… As Fen is an album band, does it concern you that “the album” may become an obsolete format?
“It depends, and it’s all quite subjective, because you can get a band like Moonsorrow that do an EP that’s 58 minutes long, and then you get Slayer do an album that’s 28 minutes long. The digital issue blurs the lines a little bit, but it’s just an expression of music. Album… EP… Single… It’s just a self-contained unit of music and it depends on what your style is and how long it takes you tell that story. I don’t think the album is going to die, in effect that “the album” doesn’t have a defined existence.
“People are still going to release music in a discrete unit of how long it needs to be to tell their story. We all have our personal definition of what an album is, be it 6 or 7 songs, 60 minutes, or however long it’s going to be, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. What you’ll see as the digital age gathers pace is that people might start releasing collections of EPs, and have more regular release cycle of shorter pieces of music, whether to keep interest sustained, or because it’s now easier to record things yourself.
“Equally there are certain bands and genres where the album is a necessary vehicle to deliver what they want to deliver, and certainly for a band like Fen where we write long songs, we want people to become immersed in our songs and an album for us is an important way of actually spreading atmosphere. If anything we might in danger of the opposite; [with Carrion Skies] we actually recorded too much music for a single CD and one of the tracks had to come out.
“I think the boundaries of what might make an album will dissipate. If we’re not tied to the limits of a CD, then a 90 minute album is fine. If that’s what is needed to fully to tell a story, or evoke the atmosphere trying to be evoked, then so be it. All the boundaries can crumble.”
That’s a fair point, Contradiction by Schammasch (Prosthetic) and AEvangelist’s Omen Ex Simulacra (Debemur Morti) both chip in around the 85 minute mark…
“And you have the last Dødsengel album, Imperator (Terratur), that is two and a half hours long and it’s really, really good, and that really underlines the creative power of some bands. If you have a band that says they’re going to do a two hour album, and they pull it off, fair play to them. I think bands will feel less beholden to the album cycle, and rather than ‘Here are 10 songs, 45 minutes, bang, here we go’, maybe you think ‘Do you know what, I feel really inspired this year, so we could put together a good hour and half of an album here’. Or, another band might think, we’re the sort of band that thrives on short, sharp shock, so let’s do a series of 4 track EP’s.
“It should be liberating. With digital, downloading, it’s changed the way music is presented and digested, and consumed, and I think it’s pointless to rail against it. Bands should see it for the liberating creating force it could be.”
Order Carrion Skies here
Words by STEVE TOVEY