Friday, 21 November 2014

破地獄 Scattered Purgatory Interview with Li-Yang Lu!

The Temple of the Drone demands sacrifice, and so cometh Scattered Purgatory to deliver us from our sonic hunger, rising out of the earth with ambient brilliance. Or something like that. Either way, it is with much pleasure we are invited to share this improvisational trio's brain space, discussing the ins-and-outs of their music, and delving into the space behind the Drone. - Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman.

Dan: Where are you from, and who are the musicians in the band?

Li-yang: We’re all from Taipei, Taiwan, a country famous of it’s excessively long working hours.

Scattered Purgatory on this album are:

Lu – guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, e-bow
Li-Yang – bass, guitar, percussion, chant
Lobo – synthesizer, computer programming, percussion

Dan: Scattered Purgatory is a fantastic name, and your latest record's name is also rather puzzling. What are their respective origins?

Li-yang: Our band name actually has no meaning in English, but in Chinese, 破地獄 (po-di-yu) it is taken from a Taoist ritual. Right after our first jam, Lobo showed us the ritual’s video clip on Youtube and it looked very, very cultist, easy to memorize, and resembles our music in some way, that’s it. And, for the album title, it’s quite geopolitical and historical. In short, there’s a volcano called Mt. Grass located in the north part of the region we’re living in. During The Ching dynasty in the 17th century, an ambassador 郁永河 (Yu-yong-he) was sent there to mine sulfur and other natural resources, he then wrote a book 稗海遊記, which means “Journal of the Miscanthus Ocean”, you can see our album as the soundtrack of his journalism or an expansion upon it. But, why “Miscanthus Ocean”? Literally there is sea of silver-grass during the autumn time on Mt. Grass, it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Dan: What are some of the group's influences?

Li-Yang: Doom, drone, sludge metal, traditional folk, krautrock bands like Popol Vuh, and I was listening to Shinichiro Ikebe’s movie soundtrack before recording.

Lu: We have some similar music taste like kraut-rock, japanese psychedeliic. but we also listen to very different stuff, it's quite interesting.

Lobo : Cluster, Harmonia, Sunn O))), Kyuss, Alva Noto, Anouar Brahem.

Dan: How would you describe your music's sound?

Lu: Heavy and haunting... but I would say it sounds more like film soundtracks, and each song describes different stories.

Li-Yang : deep, hazy, brown note.

Dan: Some people upon hearing your latest record might just listen and think ''I just don't get it''. What do you think it is in your music that appeals to your listener's, in spite of its lack of conventionality?

Lu: Lots of people ask us why don't we find a drummer, but what we want is to create massive sounding without being disturbed by drums. so... I think it's more like psychedelic rock without drums??

Li-yang: Our existence in our local scene has always been controversial hahaha. We don’t care if people understand our music or not, because there’s no synthesis or purpose inside, though we called ourselves “Eastern Cult Drone Trio”. Yet we’ve seen some reviews and the comments are like “I saw a temple after I hit the bong listening to this”. Letting others tell you why your music appealed to them is always interesting.

Dan: What is the writing process for the band like? Is it a totally free-form ordeal or semi-improvised within a pre-written structure?

Li-yang: There’s no SOP for composing, it depends, sometimes riffs or ideas come up while testing new pedalboard settings, but sometimes we share stuff we found on web/in book as a vague concept for what it will sound like.

Dan: What guitars were used on your latest record, Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean?

Li-yang: Fender American Precision bass special loaded with Lace Sensor “Man O’War” pickups + badass bridge, Standard A tuning. And Lobo’s own Fender Telecaster, all maple, drop C tuning.

Lu: I used a Gibson SG, and a acoustic guitar with some weird modifications, haha.

Dan: How about amps and effects? And how about synthesisers/keyboards (with addendum to other instruments)?

Li-Yang: In studio I use a vintage SWR bass amp and Ampeg SS-150. For pedals, I used Taipei’s local boutique pedal maker, 3Why FX’s, a Green Russian muff clone and a Proco Rat mod, oh, and  one of Mr. Black’s supermoon modulated reverb and some electro-harmonix pedals.

Lu: The main amp I used was a Vox Bruno, unlike the typical Vox amps, this one has lots of bass and it sounded really good. I used Mr. Black's supermoon as my core pedal all the time, it's an awesome reverb!

Dan: And how about synthesisers/keyboards (with addendum to other instruments)? 

Lobo: MicroBrute & Ableton, separately but all goes in to my own mixer, and send to reverb, delay, also multistop pedal then return, mixing the dry/wet.

Another interesting thing is I also used was a contact mic to make more free-improvised sound, especially when doing live shows, it’s more physical, one time I grabbed a plastic bottle and clipped the mic on it, then I used all my effort to tear it apart, it turned out pretty good.

Dan: Additionally, where was the album recorded?

Li-Yang: This album was recorded in Soundkiss studio, recorded and mastered by Alex Ives.

At first we really didn’t know who we could work with, but then we found Soundkiss studio, which is the only studio that do everything on tape in Taipei, since we wanted the sound texture of Bobby Beausoleil’s “Lucifer Rising” so we chose Soundkiss. Alex is a very careful person on sound, who gave us all kinds of advice and was willing to explore new ways of recording in the meantime.

Dan: You've released Lost Ethnography on Guruguru Brain. What was that like?

Li-Yang: We got the message from Go (of Kikagaku Moyo) through our mutual friend Molly back in March this year, they’re seeking bands who want to tour Japan or release an album on Guruguru Brain. And I was on a personal trip to Japan in April, so we hung out for a night in Tokyo, that’s how we met. Working on this album together has been smooth; the connection between us is rather strong compared to our previous label, so we can work in a very efficient way.

Dan: What's next for Scattered Purgatory? You have a show planned with Tolchock?

Li-Yang: We’ve been working on new materials and will start recording soon – this will sound very different from this album. And we definitely will be touring somewhere else in 2015. We recently started “Sub-Tropical Flashback”, you can check this out on Facebook, Tolchock & Minami-Deustch are the first two bands we arranged for touring Taiwan in December, which is also Tolchock's first tour abroad ever.

Dan: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Lobo: “Untill we see sound, hear light.” I really like this saying.

Li-Yang: I don’t play bass now.

Lu: ohh I think our first tape still have few copies left, if you are interested you can go to get one!

You can find Scattered Purgatory's latest release, Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean, here.

Make sure to like the band's Facebook page to stay up to date, here

No comments:

Post a Comment